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Rock Galpin and his new collection of furniture

Rock Galpin: “My new furniture collection is like a human hug”

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Rock Galpin: “My new furniture collection is like a human hug”

A few years and a pandemic after editor Hamish Kilburn first put forward Rock Galpin as the designer that furniture brand Morgan should work with next, the collaboration has reached a milestone with the unveiling of the Lugano Collection. Ahead of its official reveal this week, Kilburn exclusively caught up with Galpin and Morgan to find out more…

Rock Galpin and his new collection of furniture

I’m stood in Clerkenwell, a site myself and fellow design enthusiasts are familiar of. Although the streets are almost empty and the lights in many showrooms are switched off (for now) – it all looks so different post-pandemic – Dallington Street has a pulse running through it. There’s excitement in the September air as the Morgan showroom is about to shelter the official unveil of a new furniture collection. The Lugano Collection, designed by legendary furniture designer, Rock Galpin, has taken years to perfect – and London Design Festival 2021, four years since I first met the designer himself, is the perfect time (and place) for such an occasion.

It’s more than just another product launch affair for me. Believe it or not, I was the one who connected the brand with the designer a few years ago, before there were signs of a cultural shift – and planting a seed is all the credit I shall I claim with this collection. Following a few emails, the creative flair from both sides came together in harmony, with the aim to create a comfortable masterpiece for the brand to confront a new hospitality era.

Ahead of the official unveil, which takes place later this week, the team have kindly offered Hotel Designs the exclusive interview, for us to understand how this partnership evolved following our most meaningful introduction (to date)…

Hamish Kilburn: First things first, Rock, talk us through how this collection’s themes came about…

Rock Galpin: Personally I believe that the ‘quality of the experience’ of a design, of a product such as this, has become increasing more and more important. I believe we are now looking for design that serves us on a much higher level, beyond utilitarian needs, where greater levels of comfort, increased quality of experience of use, control, even empowerment with a more ethical stand point will enable a more meaningful outcome.

“The collection took shapes from simple wrap around forms that hug you – like a human hug.” – Rock Galpin.

To bring this back to the collection, the starting point for me was a simple one; to focus on comfort and what I associate with it. Warmth, being wrapped up, hugged, softness around, smoothness, soft forms and materials that we connect with, deriving from nurture and to be nurtured. The collection took shapes from simple wrap around forms that hug you – like a human hug. The frame supporting the user in a kind of protective nurturing cradle, with crafted paddle like legs extending up the sides and back. 

Two armchairs in the new Lugano furniture collection

Image credit: Morgan

As the forms and pieces started to take shape we looked further at materials and colour-ways from inspiration found in nature, one was beach pebbles, which particularly resonated with the collection for me. The experience of being on a beach and searching for that perfect pebble, that fits your hand beautifully, feeling so smooth and warm, with such beautiful colours… almost feeling like it was part of you. This in way is what I have tried to connect with and draw from in the collections typological design development, whilst retaining a certain definition.

HK: What were the major challenges when designing this collection?

RG: Creating a collection that somehow felt fondly familiar but that was also has its own unique personality, whilst potentially being timeless in appeal, is always and exciting challenge and demanding balance to try to get right. In addition there were some interesting challenges with the new method of manufacture in how the elements needed to come together to create one of the main benefits of the collection in interior schemes, that being to offer three distinctly different elements; back/arm rest, seat pad and frame giving many configurable different options, allowing interior designers further possibilities to express their signatures styles, whilst from a sustainable perspective increasing the products operational lifespan, by the option of high wear parts replacement.

Four armchair furniture pieces in the new collection

Image credit: Morgan

HK: What was it like finalising this collection while not only dealing with time zones, but also while confronting a pandemic?

RG: I am certainly the type of person and designer who enjoys working closely, hands on, with clients throughout the whole process, so it was certainly challenging finding ways to communicate particularly with the fine complexities in artistic and design refinement, and ergonomics when there could be no direct contact in the Pandemic lock down. In addition with different timezones and the fact that the week ends and starts on different days in both countries does slow communication down a little, but we’ve found ways to address this. 

HK: We have followed your work for a while now, but what’s different about this collection?

RG: My work, is quite often centred around human behaviour and experiences, with aspirations to push the boundaries of how our material world, in this case furniture can shape an improved life, with exciting materials, processes and technologies. This collection was a little different for me, in a sense that it was far more about a stripped back, more deeply routed project about connection with ‘us’, nature and timelessness. A more timeless collection that celebrates comfort, modern elegance and craftsmanship but one that also take takes a purposeful step forward.

Quick-fire round with Erin Johnson, Design Manager, Morgan

HK: In a sentence, describe the Lugano Collection?

Erin Johnson: Lugano is a collection of dining and lounge chairs, inspired by the idea of ‘nurture’, interpreted through form and balance between individual elements and material compositions.

HK: Tell us more about the name of the collection…

EJ: The collection is named after Lake Lugano, located in southern Switzerland’s Italian Ticino region. Lake Lugano reflects the floating quality of the chair’s seat which, along with the body, floats within the timber frame that cradles them.

HK: What three words would you use to describe working with Rock?

EJ: Vision, perfection, clarity.

HK: Can we expect more collaborative collections by Morgan and Rock?

EJ: We thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Rock on the Lugano collection. Rock strives for perfection, which is a quality we admire and try to embody ourselves. He challenged us to look at structure and strength of different construction methods, looking at the relationship between frame and body in ways we’ve never explored. So yes, we’d be very open to working with Rock again on future collections.

HK: As a furniture designer, what have you learned throughout this collection with Morgan?

RG: Every project is always an incredible learning process and this project has been no exception. From understanding Morgan’s perspective, the team’s passion for design, their in-house craftsmanship to the limitations and streamlining skills necessary for production to reach beautifully balanced product collections, much has been learnt. It’s a pleasure to work with a manufacturer, such as Morgan, who is prepared to take the time a design really needs to take to create the best outcome, from overall concept to the smallest subtle detail and pricing. 

HK: What can we expect next from you?

Well I am sworn to secrecy, but there is wind of a new collaboration or two, working on some exciting new furniture projects with some very interesting materials and processes. 

In stark contrast I have also been working on an incredibly challenging project for The Ministry of Justice over the last two years, to design and develop an exciting collection of beds for prison cell use by in mates in UK prisons. The collection is currently being prototyped by The Ministry of Justice.

Morgan is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Rock Galpin/Morgan/Ed Reeve 

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

Making an entrance: Can Graduate Hotels’ debut in the UK settle a legendary rivalry?

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Making an entrance: Can Graduate Hotels’ debut in the UK settle a legendary rivalry?

Graduate Hotels has made a bold entrance in the UK with the opening of two hotels in Cambridge and Oxford. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores the tension, the design details and what this means for the two locations that have been at war since 1209…

Public areas inside Graduate hotel in Cambridge

Having just returned from Cambridge, I find it difficult to include ‘Cambridge’ and ‘Oxford’ within the same sentence. I say this because in one of the city’s, Oxford is referred to as ‘the O word’ – I can only imagine what Cambridge is known as in Oxford… That’s right, the two universities – both of which pride themselves to be the most prestigious academic institutions in the world – share one thing in common, aside from their ability to churn out Nobel Prize winners; they both share their mutual (un)healthy rivalry towards one another. Since 1209, when the the University of Cambridge was founded, the history books have painted the two establishments as enemies, which has in the past – many, many years ago – even resulted in murder.

Making what I am comfortable to describe as the boldest debuts in 2021 (so far), Graduate Hotels, a collection of handcrafted properties in university-anchored cities across America, has opened its first set of hotels in Europe in… yes, you guessed it… Cambridge and Oxford. Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels have officially opened their doors for overnight stays with food and beverage outlets to follow later this month.

Inspired by the world-famous academic reputation and unique traditions of the cities and universities, both Graduate Hotels properties offer design rooted in storytelling, distinct food and beverage experiences and a range of programming and events with local partners hosted year round. Crafted for local neighbours and students, regional alums and weekenders and international travellers alike, the hotels both seek to celebrate the dynamic communities they are positioned within.

“Our team is humbled to be launching the Graduate Hotels brand in two of the most historic and prestigious university communities in the world,” said Ben Weprin, Graduate Hotels founder and CEO. “The legacies that these iconic destinations represent drive the ethos of what inspires us to create memorable spaces to be enjoyed for generations to come. We look forward to welcoming global travellers for a uniquely Graduate experience in these centuries old, one-of-a-kind cities.”

Graduate Hotels has partnered with restaurant developer, White Rabbit Projects to launch all food and beverage outlets at Graduate Cambridge and The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels. White Rabbit Projects is behind some of the most exciting hospitality concepts in the U.K. including Kricket, Lina Stores and Island Poké. With input from local suppliers throughout the regions, the range of culinary offerings will encompass restaurant, bar and café concepts.

Inside Graduate Cambridge

Positioned along the idyllic banks of the River Cam, the 148-key Graduate Cambridge is surrounded by the University of Cambridge, within walking distance of several colleges, and a stone’s throw from the city’s best restaurants, bars and shops. The hotel has undergone a complete interior renovation that includes all rooms, common spaces, fitness club and pool. A ground floor conversion has seen the addition of a café and bar, as well as the renovation of the full-service restaurant, which opened on September 10.

Public areas inside Graduate Cambridge

Image credit: Graduate Hotels

Led by Graduate Hotels’ in-house interior design studio, the hotel’s design incorporates the history of the city, making the river the focal point with various accessible views, especially in the lobby bar. Colour palettes, patterns and textures in the public areas reflect the green surroundings of fields and the pastoral English countryside. With the punting boat rentals located just outside, the design brings local inspiration into the hotel, with life-size punting boats incorporated in the bookshelves in the lobby, a statement installation by local craftsmen.

The lobby is also home to a hanging DNA installation to celebrate Rosalind Franklin, a pioneer in the development of DNA at the University of Cambridge. The guest rooms see splashes of “Cambridge Blue.” Key design details include wallpaper depicting school gates, bedside built-ins reimagined as punting boats, whimsical lamps in the shape of a penny coin, as well as striking wood and leather desks to give the rooms a studious feel. Bathrooms feature scenic pastoral wallpaper and mirrors in the shape of the university crest.

The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels

Located in the city’s cultural epicentre, The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels is within close walking distance to the University of Oxford and its iconic colleges, including Trinity and St. John’s. The hotel is also close to St. Giles Street, as well as the world-famous Radcliffe Camera and Ashmolean Museum. The design of the 151-key hotel takes inspiration from the university’s history, paying homage to its storied innovators and alumni. The hotel has undergone a complete renovation across all of the common spaces, the lobby and guest rooms, which includes a spa featuring treatment rooms, a sauna, steam room and jacuzzi, all of which will open in autumn 2021.

The hotel has relaunched with comprehensive interior renovations throughout all of the guest rooms, the lobby and common spaces. Led by Graduate Hotels’ in-house interior design studio, the design details at The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels include bold hues and architectural elements inspired by the hotel’s heritage and locally inspired art which tells the narratives of Oxford’s past. In-room art includes paintings of Oxford alumni and well-known author and playwright, Oscar Wilde, and a painting of the famous ‘Steamboat Ladies’ (1904-1097), tells the story of a group of more than 700 women who travelled by a steamboat ferry to obtain degrees at a time when their own universities withheld graduation from female students.

Founded by CEO Ben Weprin in 2014, Graduate Hotels currently has 30 U.S. locations in addition to the two new U.K. properties. Owned by Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners, Graduate Hotels’ properties in Oxford and Camdbridge join AJ Capital’s growing portfolio of hotels throughout the U.K. AJ Capital additionally owns and operates Marine & Lawn, a collection of bespoke hotels in the world’s most distinguished golfing destinations. The inaugural properties recently launched with Rusacks Hotel in St Andrews, Scotland and Marine North Berwick in North Berwick, Scotland, and will be followed by Marine Troon in Troon, Scotland.

Main image credit: Graduate Hotels

Virtual roundtable - ethical lighting solutions

Virtual roundtable: Ethical lighting solutions

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: Ethical lighting solutions

With the aim to put ethical lighting – and not just sustainability – under the spotlight, Hotel Designs’ latest virtual roundtable welcomes Chris Stimson, Founder of lighting brand Well-Lit, and a handful of leading designers and lighting experts to explore ethical product design. Editor Hamish Kilburn writes…

Virtual roundtable - ethical lighting solutions

For years now, the buzzword that is ‘sustainability’ has been a constant tone; a consistent and unavoidable noise ringing in the ears of every designer, architect and hospitality professional – like tinnitus. Despite the topic remaining important and in its infancy regarding us seeing real change, in order to really clean up our act when it comes to designing consciously, it is not the only subject we need to consider and, if needs be, expose.

To really one day achieve a totally ethical arena for designers, architects and hotel professionals – we live in hope here on the editorial desk – we must also place product design under the spotlight. To do this, designers must not be afraid to question how raw materials are sourced as well as how each element of the product they are specifying is made. But how do we, as an industry, realistically achieve this when deadlines become tighter, briefs become narrower and so many other details need to be addressed on a project?

In addition to advising designers to specify responsibly, after moderating the below roundtable discussion, I no longer believe it is acceptable for brands to be ignorant on how their products are being made. The reason why I say this is because the consequences of such naivety, which emerge thousands of miles away from the first-world problems we face in the western world, can be (and are) unequivocally devastating.

Image caption: Susan Lake's lighting design, sheltered inside Yotel Edinburgh. | Image credit: Yotel Hotels

Image caption: Susan Lake’s lighting design, sheltered inside Yotel Edinburgh. | Image credit: Yotel Hotels

Many brands, both large and small, that currently manufacture their products in Asia are (knowingly or not) fuelling modern slavery. One man who has seen the human cost of unethical manufacturing is Chris Stimson, Founder of lighting brand Well-Lit, who inspired the topic of our Hotel Designs next roundtable.

To panoramically explore ethical lighting solutions with might and purpose, we invited Stimson, along with a handful of designers and lighting experts, to discuss just how bad the problem currently is.

On the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: Chris, why is ethical lighting so high up on your agenda? 

Chris Stimson: It’s based on my own experience. Previously I was based in China, and worked as a sourcing agent for western brands that were looking for manufacturers. Before LED bulbs for domestic homes were known, I was watching the research, travelling to trade shows and meeting the people who were developing the technology. I successfully connected the manufacturers with brands – and that went well for about two years.

Then in 2010, there was a dramatic shift in the market as mass production entered, and the price of LEDs and what manufacturers could achieve fell. I was literally told over night to halve my prices or I would be out of a job. It was during that time when I witnessed things that rocked me to my core; I saw things that could not be unseen. Over the period of just six months I realised I facilitated it. I was part of the problem, so I decided that I was in a position to do better. And this is how we started the lighting brand Well-Lit.

Well-lit light bulbs

Image caption: Well-Lit are one of the few lighting brands that is actively ensuring that the manufacturing process to make its products and components is ethical.

HK: As lighting experts and designers, how aware are you all about non-ethical practices when it comes to manufacturing?

Charlotte Flynn: I’ll be honest, before we had an introduction with Well-lit, we were not aware of the unethical side of lighting manufacturing. It really was new to us. At least knowing that brands, such as Well-Lit, were willing to bring this forward was comforting, but it was also pretty unnerving to think that, despite working with brands who claim to be ethical and sustainable, we actually had no idea just how bad the situation was. The reality is that many designers are unknowingly specifying products that have been made in barbaric conditions.

Metehan Apak: As designers, I think we have all noticed prices of products come down as demand rises. What cannot be ignored are the demands among modern travellers for sustainable design and hospitality. As a result, our clients are getting on board with our thinking to source sustainable and ethical products.

Arianne Ghezzi: We do pay close attention to the suppliers we are working with. There are a few items that we really care about when specifying and that’s usually around what happens in the background. Clients start coming on board when they realise that these ethical decisions often end up saving money when it comes to running costs. More and more, I have seen, that clients are also asking about the lifecycle of products and the recycling qualities of each product.

I also think that manufacturing tours are very usable for designers to understand how components are made and put together.

Image caption: Ennismore recently set new standards to only work with brands that can prove their ethical value. | Image credit: The Hoxton Paris

Image caption: Ennismore recently set new standards to only work with brands that can prove their ethical value. | Image credit: The Hoxton Paris

HK: I can imagine, though, it is very difficult for designers who are working towards a brief for a space to be aesthetically pleasing while also remaining on budget and for the materials to be sourced ethically. Realistically, can all three demands be met?

Susan Lake: It’s a very difficult tightrope that as designers we have to walk. We have to think about the larger picture but we also have to consider the budget, time and aesthetics. It’s reassuring to see that there are brands out there that do source and manufacture responsibly. Equally, it is our responsibility to really demand these credentials when we are specifying products. When it comes to ethics, though, to produce in an ethical way will naturally result in the prices going up.

HK: How do you qualify what is ethical – and what is the human and social cost of unethically made lighting?

CS: The situation around fast fashion really brought awareness to other industries. Even Apple – one of the world’s most recognised brands in the world – has huge problems with their manufacturing in Asia. For example, the brand launched a huge campaign about ethics and manufacturing. Well, on the day they released their press statement, a video emerged showing footage from inside a Chinese factory where the manager was throwing workers’ name badges on the floor for them to pick up at the start of their shifts. It’s incredibly difficult and if a brand like Apple is struggling then you can imagine how challenging it is for everyone else.

“It’s almost like ‘made in China’ is a dirty phrase. And it usually is, but it doesn’t have to be. – Chris Stimson, Founder, Well-Lit.

Image caption: Public areas inside Hotel Zeppelin, designed by Dawson Design Associates. | Image credit: Viceroy Hotels

Image caption: Public areas inside Hotel Zeppelin, designed by Dawson Design Associates. | Image credit: Viceroy Hotels

In terms of my own experience and what I have witnessed, the social and human cost of manufacturing [unethically] in my industry is devastating. I am seeing migrants working hundreds of miles away from their families for very low pay – sometimes even refused pay. The working and living conditions in and around these factories can be disgusting and dangerous. They are being made to work inhumane hours and their jobs are threatened on a daily basis because they can be easily replaced. I have seen what that can do so someone’s physical and mental health and it is disturbing. It destroys people, and yet it still doesn’t get spoken about.

For a lot of brands, it’s almost like ‘made in China’ is a dirty phrase. And it usually is, but it doesn’t have to be. My beliefs are that we all live on the same planet and we should be treated equally. It is as important to discuss ethical sourcing as it is to highlight sustainability and carbon emissions.

“Sustainability seems to be the key word in the briefs but trying to find out information on how the products are manufactured and the conditions of the factories is very difficult.” – Glenn Campion, Partner, LAPD

Image caption: LADP Lighting Design's simple yet dramatic lighting scheme inside The Loft Restaurant. | Image credit: The Loft Restaurant

Image caption: LADP Lighting Design’s simple yet dramatic lighting scheme inside The Loft Restaurant. | Image credit: The Loft Restaurant

HK: In your experiences, are you being told the truth when brands tell you about their ethical credentials?  

Glen Campion: Finding and measuring metrics and data on the ethical standards of manufacturers is nigh on impossible. It’s not something that is published. Sustainability seems to be the key word in the briefs but trying to find out information on how the products are manufactured and the conditions of the factories is very difficult. I think there is a lack of accreditations. The only one I am aware of is the Green Alliance but I know that doesn’t cover everything, so there is a long way to go.

CS: That’s really important because there are no accreditations out there that define exactly what an ethical brand is. I can set up a brand tomorrow and convince a lot of people that we are doing everything the right way and it would simply not be true. The only time in my career that an organisation has really challenged me on what we do was when The Observer  were considering us for ‘ethical product of the decade’ in their ethical awards. They asked deep questions and requested evidence.

For designers, it is almost impossible to know if you are purchasing sustainable or ethically made products, it really is!

“It is impossible to find out in certain regions. We have tried, for years, and we can source about 85 per cent of our raw materials and then there is just a hole. – Chris Stimson, Founder, Well-Lit.

HK: It seems that price is a pretty good indicator then. How much more expensive are ethically sourced lighting products?

CS: When we designed the business, we asked how we could create an ethical product. We had to be a profitable, sustainable and ethical enterprise. By truly doing this, it became clear that there was no way we could afford large-scale PR or a large offices and teams in London. In fact, in 12 years, we have spent about £12,000 on marketing because every penny we have has to go into the design of the product.

What’s more is that we need to present our products at competitive prices to our competitors otherwise we are out of the game. The challenges of running a business like ours is extraordinary when competing against the large brands with deep marketing pockets.

Two big bulbs in lighting scheme for a bar

Image credit: Well-Lit

Glen was talking about supply chains and where raw materials come from. The truth is that it is impossible to find out in certain regions. We have tried, for years, and we can source about 85 per cent of our raw materials and then there is just a hole. Therefore, we cannot promote ourselves as a completely sustainable business – but we try everything we can to be as ethical and sustainable as possible, while being ahead of the technology curve when it comes to lighting innovation.

I also don’t think you can be a sustainable business without being an ethical business. The real sustainability crime is the sheer amount of the low quality, often broken, bulbs that we shipped from China to the western world. If you think about the carbon footprint of these products that end up faulty and subsequently replaced with another bulb that has done the same journey, it’s not an ethical solution.

We make everything by hand, and that gives us such a low failure rate. Yes, we suffer on the cost of that but there really is no other way for us to produce those products ethically.

HK: Charlotte, how have your conversations changed with other brands since learning about what Well-Lit does?

CF: When it comes to the supply chain of products, we have an in-house sustainability focus group. We set up a schedule and there are questionnaires sent out to our recommended suppliers about their supply chain of materials. And yes, we have seen the same, we manage to trace back materials half way and then it descends into a black hole. With lighting, Chris was the first to put this on our radar. We actually only work with Well-Lit at the moment because of our shared ethos around ethical sourcing.

Obviously, we do have the benefit of being in-house so we are able to make those pledges and they are transparently communicated and understood among the whole team here. However, I believe we can set a tone for the industry to follow. It’s been really key to ensure that this, sustainability and conscious sourcing, is within our brand standards at Ennismore.

HK: Why is more lighting not manufactured in the UK?  

SL: It really does depend project by project. Some clients, depending on their clientele and demographic, are more focused on ethics and environment than others. Those clients are willing to pay more for the products. It is easier to trace back materials when the products have been made in the UK, but it is tough because all businesses need to think about their profitability.

HK: Please tell me that brands can ethically manufacturer products abroad as well…

CS: Yes, it can be done – our brand uses very good factories in China while also manufacturing in the UK. There are certain items that you simply cannot manufacture in the UK, such as bulbs, while also retaining a price point that anyone would touch. One of the things that gets missed out in topics like these is that there are brilliant crafts people in Asia who are doing brilliant things. In terms of both technology and the governmental support given to these creatives, they are some of the best people in the world and yet their reputation is being tainted by the result of greed and poor quality mass production of products.

In terms of being able to manufacture in China, there is a lot of trust that come into it. There are just two or three factories that I would use because of genuine shared values when it comes to the manufacturing process and human ethical standards. The most important element for us is that the workers are passionate and buy into the products they are producing. If they are benefiting from the products they are creating, then they will produce better quality products. This ultimately results in a product that has more longevity.

HK: How has this situation become so out of control?

CS: In my experience, most LED bulb brands do not know what is happening. It’s not always that these companies don’t want to know but it’s more that they just assume everything is happening the way they think it is. The sourcing process for most companies is to meet suppliers while travelling to trade shows, perhaps stay on to visit a factory where samples can be made and prices can be agreed. They might do a factory inspection but a lot can be hidden and this process, in my experience, can be highly manipulated and deceptive.

HK: What can designers do to make the industry more ethical?

CS: Ask difficult questions and demand hard evidence. For suppliers, these questions should be directed towards the factories they are working with. Suppliers should know about the living and working conditions of the workers who are in these factories.

GC: I’ll be honest, when it comes to specifying, over the last 10 years the decisions from clients have been driven by cost. The choices on the lighting projects I have been involved in are around supply costs. There are so many components in lighting schemes that need to be measured and presented, so weighing them up against another product that is ethically sourced is not often asked for. It would be great, however, to promote ethical sourcing and really help to educate the industry on the effects of unethical manufacturing.

HK: I think you’re right, the more companies that put forward good, solid evidence around ethical production of products, the more the industry will naturally demand this being an essential. Ultimately, if all suppliers looked deep into their supply chain and if all designers were more inquisitive about the products they are supplying then the healthier the industry will become on a global scale.

Main image credit: Hotel Designs

Accor hotel room on top of mountain

The sky is the limit: Germany’s highest hotel room

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The sky is the limit: Germany’s highest hotel room

Accor, in a bid to raise awareness of its ALL – Accor Live Limitless campaign, has installed a glass box that contains a fully-furnished hotel room on the top of Germany’s highest mountain. But you can’t stay here (not yet anyway)…

Accor hotel room on top of mountain

Calling all stargazers, Accor has recently unveiled an entire hotel room at the top of the Zugspitzplatt, the highest mountain in Germany. But not so fast, it’s not actually possible (yet) to spend the night here without trespassing. Instead, the installation has been created to highlight the brand’s ALL – Accor Live Limitless campaign. Still, it’s a pretty interesting hotel concept that the editorial team at Hotel Designs identified recently.

Travellers who who make their way up to the glass construction will, as a result, be rewarded as an ALL newcomer with 500 points on their personal ALL account, redeemable at their next stay in one of Accor’s hotels.

The interior design scheme inside the glass structure includes real hotel furniture that comes from the Accor brand Novotel, with which the hotel group started more than 50 years ago. 

Many are now calling for the hotel group to actually make this installation a real-life experience, but only time will tell whether or not sleeping under the stars at altitude will become the next unparalleled travel trend.

Main image credit: Accor

citizenM paris champs elysees

citizenM opens hotel on Champs-Élysées in Paris

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
citizenM opens hotel on Champs-Élysées in Paris

Talk about changing  up the narrative… the street of traditional luxury gets a french kiss from affordable luxury – citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées, designed by Concrete Amsterdam, becomes the brand’s fourth hotel in the City of Light…

The multi-award winning, Dutch hotel-and-lifestyle brand citizenM is returning to Paris to open its fourth hotel – on one of the world’s most famous avenues. 

citizenM paris champs elysees

From September 2021, citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées joins its three sister hotels in the French capital – making it the first city with a quartet of citizenM hotels . Overall, this is citizenM’s 15th hotel in Europe – and 23rd globally – since 2008.

citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées, the hotel brand’s 15th property to open in Europe, stays true to the brand’s promise of ‘affordable luxury for the people’ – serving it up, as usual, in a triple-A well-connected location. This one is centered almost precisely between Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. On the doorstep: luxury shopping and dining on Avenue de Champs-Élysées, two metro stations, Galeries Lafayette, Grand Palais, Petit Palais, countless restaurants and boutiques, and much more. The location is ideal for tourists and business travellers visiting Paris for both short and long stays. 

a blue sofa and red furniture inside citizenm in Paris

Image credit: citizenM

Over approximately two years, the existing 1970s building on Rue la Boétie had been redesigned and converted into a modern 151-room citizenM hotel, with the help of long-time collaborators and architects Concrete Amsterdam, who took part in Hotel Designs LIVE this year. Approximately a quarter of the rooms on the front facade have a view of Rue la Boétie and a slice of Avenue de Champs-Élysées. The rest of the rooms are arranged in a U-shape around a peaceful ground-floor courtyard with greenery and comfortable outdoor seating. 

To get to the rooms, guests enter via a designer living room – citizenM’s signature space and everyone’s favourite hangout – passing a commissioned wall mural by Lucky Left Hand (French artist Steven Burke) on their way. In the living room itself, a spectacular Golden Age wallpaper by Ai Wei Wei will undoubtedly become one of the most photographed art pieces. It is best contemplated from one of the many cosy and colourful Vitra couches and chairs. Other notable art pieces in the living room include ‘Tauros’ by Sarah Morris, a lightbox by JR (Jean René), photo print by Frank Horvat, and Andy Warhol’s ‘Flowers’, as well as hand-picked pieces by Thomas Raat, Christophe Bucklow, David Salle and Jordan Wolfson, courtesy of the citizenM collection, which belongs to citizenM Executive Chairman Rattan Chadha.

For that ‘just like home’ feeling, the living room has space for working and relaxing, hundreds of books, interesting objects, and a 24/7 kitchen in the centre. Known as canteenM, it serves 24/7 food, drinks and snacks – nearly all locally sourced – hot à la carte meals, craft cocktails and delicious coffee. The indoor canteenM bar/dining area expands onto the aforementioned inner courtyard with Parisian-style furniture. 

When creating a new hotel, citizenM likes to include an element of surprise to keep all returning guests delighted. This way, the ‘affordable luxury’ experience is consistent around the world, but with a unique attraction at every location. citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées is the first-ever hotel with three outdoor spaces – the courtyard on ground level, the canteenM terrace, and an enchanting cloudM rooftop bar with a fresh, casual vibe. This spectacular park-style bar on top of the Champs-Élysées will serve a menu of delicious finger food, snacks, and bottled drinks (a variety of refreshing wine, beer, soda and spritzes). The cloudM bar – featuring views of the Eiffel Tower – will be open to the public, available for private hire, and stylishly furnished by Vitra.

Upstairs, 151 rooms are designed especially to fit the existing building – and for ultimate relaxation. The most important things – the XL king-size bed, jungle-like shower, and entertainment – are all optimised for comfort, luxury and ease of use. Superfast Wi-Fi is always free, and the entire room ambiance (from lights and blinds to the temperature and TV) is controlled by the free citizenM app, or the MoodPad tablet. 

For room art, citizenM hand-picked three French female artists – Marie Guillard, Elvire Caillon and Melodie Bachet – in collaboration with Starter, a creative agency run by Parisiennes Aurelie Dablanc and Anne-Marine Guiberteau. In every city it calls home, citizenM seeks out local artists to collaborate with and highlight their talent. 

White contemporary bedroom

Image credit: citizenM

For the final touch to the true citizenM experience, the hotel ambassadors make the whole world feel at home. Every one of them is empowered to do what’s right for the guests, and prepared to take on any role – barista, concierge, housekeeping or receptionist. At citizenM, guests who need attention are never sent to ‘speak to someone else’, but instead receive genuine warmth and attention – deservedly noted in the many positive online reviews. 

citizenM Paris Champs-Élysées hotel is open for bookings from September 2021. Together with the existing three locations – at Gare de Lyon, La Défense and Charles de Gaulle Airport – the quartet of Parisian citizenM hotels fulfills the needs of every visitor seeking affordable luxury in the City of Light.

Main image credit: citizenM

Roca tap

Product watch: Roca introduces new colours to brassware collections

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Roca introduces new colours to brassware collections

Bathroom brand Roca continues to innovate with its brassware portfolio thanks to the introduction of two new finishes to its stunning Insignia and Naia ranges. Complete with Everlux finish, the two new additions are now available in on-trend rose gold and brushed titanium black – the perfect finishing touch for any bathroom in an era where colour is king (or queen)… 

Roca tap

The sleek, modern design of both the Insignia and Naia brassware by Roca already makes them a popular choice among designers, however with the introduction of two new colours, the possibilities are now pretty much endless. The addition of the rose gold adds a pop of subtlety – think chic colour – whereas the brushed titanium black adds a touch of sophistication and contemporary, industrial style.

With a square handle and a round body, Naia has a minimalist design, with a perfect combination of cylindrical and square geometric shapes to complement a variety of bathroom decors. It is available in a range of heights to suit a variety of basin styles including vanity, in-countertop and on-countertop.

With its soft profile and slim side handle, Insignia features gently curved lines and a sleek, elegant aesthetic. Insignia is a modern, single-lever brassware collection, that’s ideal for bathrooms with a clear urban design.

Both ranges feature Roca’s Cold Start technology to ensure the flow starts with cold water and hot water systems are only activated when the handle is turned to the left. This not only saves CO2, but also reduces consumers’ energy bills. Naia and Insignia are available in a variety of basin (different heights available), bidet and shower mixers, along with matching bath fillers.

David Bromell, Head of Marketing at Roca comments: “The extensive Roca brassware portfolio continues to evolve with innovative designs and contemporary finishes, providing a broad range of solutions, but with homogenised commitment to quality, functionality and environmental responsibility. The addition of these two new coloured finishes, further enhances our existing collections with an on-trend yet enduring design, that appeals to a wide market.”

The Insignia and Naia brassware collections also come with Roca’s innovative Everlux finish – a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) coating which has excellent durability as well as being resistant to scratches and impacts.

The sophisticated Everlux finish is obtained by the innovative physical vapor deposition (PVD) process via the ionization of metals and noble gases, which are combined to create a fine metallic coating. This coating, based on extremely hard metals such as titanium or zirconium, is uniformly deposited over Roca’s high-quality galvanized chrome plating, resulting in a surface with extreme hardness and extraordinary resistance to scratches, impacts and cleaning agents. Through this process, Roca has been able to offer multiple combinations in the creation of sophisticated and highly resistant bathroom spaces.

Roca is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Roca

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

Pan Pacific London – a new luxury wellness hotel is born

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Pan Pacific London – a new luxury wellness hotel is born

There is no doubt that Pan Pacific London was one of the most hotly anticipated hotel openings in London in 2021. With the hotel now open, following a spectacular opening party, it’s time to experience what luxury and wellness at new heights really feels like… 

Lobby/lounge inside Pan Pacific London

Following what has been a hard-hitting few years for the hospitality and tourism industry, it’s refreshing to finally see new hotels – properties we have been drawling over since their concept phases were unveiled – are starting to emerge in the ever-so-congested London hotel arena. Pan Pacific London was one of those hotels. In an interview with its architect, Mark Kelly from PLP Architecture, we learned the need for flexibility in today’s era of design and hospitality. “Architecture is an inherently flexible process – always evolving while constantly questioning and reinventing itself,” he said when discussing architecture’s role post-pandemic. “As such, it is well placed to respond to the current and seemingly ever-changing Covid crisis and, for that matter, other current and future global concerns such as the climate emergency.”

Pan Pacific London is a fine example of a new hotel that was, prior to the Covid-19 crisis, already planning to take wellness in luxury into a new era. However, after hospitality’s months and months of forced hibernation, this hotel opens with a greater meaning and purpose for the wider luxury hotel landscape. This haven in the heart of the city fuses together architecture, contemporary design, boundary-pushing wellbeing, and leading destination restaurants and bars, with sincere Singaporean hospitality to create a lifestyle destination in London.

Located in Liverpool Street, Pan Pacific London is on the doorstep of world-renowned locations yet also home to its own inner world. Sitting proudly in the landmark tower at One Bishopsgate Plaza, the hotel is situated near many of the city’s finest attractions including high-end shopping in Spitalfields, the Barbican cultural hub, and the stylish Shoreditch neighbourhood.

What to expect inside

Setting the tone immediately upon arrival, the lobby is minimalist with earthy and warm tones creating a modern and paired back home-from-home scene. Accents of colour and personality, however, come from carefully placed plants that were provided by biophilic design experts at Leaflike. “This is one of the most rewarding projects we have worked on because of the alignment between our businesses regarding sustainability,” Brandon Abernethie, Head of Design at Leaflike told Hotel Designs.We cannot wait to help more hoteliers achieve their goals.”

A minimalist lobby with plants

Image credit: Jack Hardy

The hotel has been created by esteemed design duo Yabu Pushelberg, who bring their signature style to the hotel sparked by the fusion of south-east Asian vibrancy and the refined elegance of traditional British design. A unique sanctuary in the middle of The City of London, modern lines and artistic flair run throughout the hotel’s public spaces whilst guest rooms offer a sense of peace and calm with curved walls and neutral colour palettes.

Led by a team of seasoned industry veterans, Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s acclaimed attention to detail and a proactive approach to environmental sustainability and wellness can be seen in the 237 guestrooms and suites which offer some of London’s finest accommodation. The signature Pan Pacific Suite, for example, perched on the 19th floor, is the essence of luxury with spectacular views of city landmark, The Gherkin. 

The guestrooms have been designed as retreats from the bustling city and feature a lighter colour palette offering peace and tranquillity to the private spaces while the omission of 90-degree angles in bedrooms and washrooms creates a gentle embrace where guests can seek rest and comfort.

Custom headboards act as personalised art pieces, adding a layer of calm through the depiction of oak, elder, elm and maple trees while accessories introduce small bursts of colour and organic forms to reinforce the tonal and tranquil nature of each guestroom. 

A guestroom with neutral tones

Image credit: Jack Hardy

For ultimate wellbeing, an innovative ChiliSleep™ Ooler Sleep Cooling System to aid better sleep via temperature regulation is available upon request, and rooms come complete with yoga mats and on demand virtual yoga sessions, as well as health-benefiting botanical planting.

Integrating fitness, nutrition, treatments and mindfulness, the hotel is one of the first in London to include an impressive 1,083m² floor dedicated to holistic wellness, featuring an 18.5m infinity pool and the latest equipment from TecnoBody®, including the D-Wall and conditioning gym, making it one of the most technologically advanced facilities showcased by any hotel gym in the UK.

In addition to high-performance training, aqua fitness in the hotel’s infinity pool is a unique addition to the wellbeing floor, along with mindful workshops and sustainable nutrition. Spa treatments infuse Western science and clinical research with South East Asian tradition of clean beauty focusing on result-driven relaxation techniques, pregnancy treatments, and personal grooming rituals.

The F&B offering at Pan Pacific London is unparalleled, with each of its five venues incorporating unique elements of the flavour, diversity and elegance of modern Singapore. Led by multi award-winning Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair and renowned Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, the hotel’s Straits Kitchen restaurant, Ginger Lily bar and The Orchid Lounge drawing room delights guests with new and innovative flavours. The team are working closely with British producers, Nurtured in Norfolk, to grow their own high quality Asian ingredients as well as sourcing local produce to help minimise the carbon footprint whilst bringing authentic flavours to the table.

Pan Pacific London offers a serene haven away from the hustle and bustle, with every element carefully crafted and tailored to offer one of London’s most complete contemporary and luxury hotel experiences. The panelled wood screens which wrap the ground floor reception have been carried up and throughout the wellbeing floor to create continuity. Tall ceilings lend an inviting feel to the space whilst the spectacular poolside fireplace and sofas create a homely feeling making guests want to relax and linger.

Located at the top of the lobby’s spiral staircase, Straits Kitchen is an ode to Southeast Asia both through design and cuisine. Embracing a respectful approach to cooking inspired by heritage recipes, the menu at Straits Kitchen has been carefully crafted by the hotel’s Executive Chef Lorraine Sinclair working alongside Singaporean Group Executive Chef Tony Khoo and showcases the melting pot of cuisines represented in multicultural Singapore. Quirky, bold and bright, Straits Kitchen stands as a gem of the hotel, featuring two private dining spaces, custom dining tables and a custom wine-cabinet-as-art. Custom murals have been brought to life by En Viu which further enforce the restaurant’s Eastern influence, depicting Asian botanicals mirroring the unique flavours on the menu. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer guests unparalleled views of The City.

Located on the first floor, The Orchid Lounge offers a uniquely sumptuous and serene Afternoon Tea from award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden. Cherish brings her unique flair for Asian flavours to the traditional British tea with the Singaporean-inspired Kopi Tiam, celebrating bao, dim sum and choux. 

In addition to superb dining and dynamically designed guestrooms and suites, Pan Pacific London includes the most technologically advanced and largest ballroom in the area, accommodating up to 400 guests. The hotel also features an Event Emporium alongside a further nine innovative and flexible meeting and events venues, with a dedicated in-house events management team plus state-of-the-art technology, superfast WiFi and 5G receivers.

The extensive 464sqm smart Pacific Ballroom has direct access from Bishopsgate Plaza via a glass escalator and elevator as well as direct access via the hotel. A custom Lasvit chandelier designed by Yabu Pushelberg hangs sumptuously above the expansive ballroom and is composed of floating crystal orbs creating a starry night’s sky under which any occasion may be celebrated.

Main image credit: Jack Hardy

hansgrohe FinishPlus

FinishPlus by hansgrohe – unique in every sense of the word

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
FinishPlus by hansgrohe – unique in every sense of the word

Bathroom design is all about personal style, and thanks to FinishPlus by hansgrohe it is even easier for designers to create a unique bathroom design scheme. Offering more choice, these finishes allow for complete customisation in the bathroom, regardless of size…

hansgrohe FinishPlus

With five distinctive finishes to choose from, FinishPlus by hansgrohe enables a variety of design options which enhance the bathroom style. The range covers everything, from matt black to matt white, brushed bronze and even the elegance of polished gold.

All FinishPlus surfaces offer exceptional robustness, durability and scratch-resistance; the result of the exhaustive research and development of the wider Hansgrohe Group.

What’s more, having investing significantly into its manufacturing facilities, FinishPLus products are now available on a short lead time. Saving both money and time, this gives installers peace of mind form the inception of the project, working to tight deadlines and schedules.

FinishPlus is now available in several hansgrohe ranges, from the understated geometric design of Metropol to the softly tapered Talis E. Both ranges offer handles and spouts in numerous height options so that customers have maximum freedom to tailor their wash basin, shower and bathtub area. To create harmony throughout the bathroom, the effect of these vibrant shades is also available across the showering and accessories ranges. Many of these projects are also available as EcoSmart alternatives, which means they not only save water, but also save energy and running costs.

As well as being a Recommended Supplier, hansgrohe is an Event Partner for The Brit List Awards 2021. The winners will be announced on November 3 at PROUD Embankment.

Main image credit: hansgrohe

Image of a guestroom inside The Londoner

NOW OPEN: The Londoner – let’s take a look inside

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
NOW OPEN: The Londoner – let’s take a look inside

The much-anticipated, first-of-its-kind, “super boutique hotel”, The Londoner, has officially opened its doors in the heart of London’s iconic Leicester Square. Costing a whopping £500m, will the new luxury hotel take the tourist trap of a piazza into a new, more refined era? Editor Hamish Kilburn poked his head through the door to find out…

Image of a guestroom inside The Londoner

Following years of speculation and rumours around exactly what the hospitality experience would be like inside, The Londoner has opened – and with it, we hope, it will take the worn-down and tired Leicester Square into a new era of luxury, while also shining as a wonderful example that luxury is not an excuse not to be sustainable, from architecture to hospitality sheltered inside.

The Lobby at The Londoner hotel

Image credit: Andrew Beasley

From one of the UK’s largest family-owned hotel groups, Edwardian Hotels London, the hotel is the latest launch set to astound both Londoners and International guests with a staggering 350 guestrooms spread across 16 storeys and a subterranean series of spaces, creating one of the deepest habitable basements in the world. And yet, despite its size, the hotel, thanks to its intuitive design, still feels warmly intimate. 

Designed in collaboration with world-renowned architectural designers Yabu Pushelberg, the opening marks a bold and pivotal moment in the return and scale of global hospitality, and an exciting ‘re-birth for Leicester Square’.

Known as the ‘luxury urban resort’, The Londoner shelters a variety of rooms, suites, penthouses, two private screening rooms, an exclusive 24-hour residents’ space, an entire floor dedicated to wellness, expansive ballroom, private art gallery, wealth of meeting places, and a mix of several concept eateries. This includes the hotel’s signature Mediterranean restaurant, Whitcomb’s, plus a contemporary Japanese lounge bar with a rooftop terrace and fire pit named 8. To ensure there is something for everyone, the hotel even has its own neighbourhood bar, Joshua’s Tavern.

Whilst super in scale, the hotel’s boutique approach and commitment to hospitality offers the highest levels of luxury with an experience designed to make every guest feel at home. As a brand-new opening in London, it is also important to note that The Londoner has employed pioneering methods of sustainable luxury, which exceeds the BREEAM Excellent category in building environmental and sustainable performance.

Watch this space… full review coming soon.

Main image credit: Edwardian Hotels

TheHague_3

Cove by edyn to arrive in The Hague in 2022

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Cove by edyn to arrive in The Hague in 2022

Hospitality group edyn continues the rapid expansion of its serviced apartment brand Cove into Europe with a new acquisition in The Hague. Here’s what we know…

TheHague_3

Extended stay hospitality leaders edyn has announced the acquisition of a new asset in The Hague, which will become the first opening of its recently-launched serviced apartment brand, Cove, in mainland Europe.

The asset will be converted into 121 serviced apartments, which will open in March 2022. The project will comprise a combination of studio and open plan one-bedroom apartments with fully fitted kitchens and will benefit from an updated design scheme throughout, representative of Cove’s contemporary sophisticated aesthetic. The building will also include 250sqm of lobby, lounge, and co-working area, providing informal workspace for groups or individuals.

Located on Grote Marktstraat, one of The Hague’s most important shopping districts, ‘Cove – Centrum’ will serve a base of corporate clients, as well as leisure travellers and families seeking more spacious, comfortable accommodation. Set in the iconic ‘De Passage’ building, designed by architect Bernard Tschumi which opened in 2014, the serviced apartments will also benefit from extensive local shopping and dining options.

The acquisition of ‘Cove – Centrum’ follows the recently announced ‘Cove – Landmark Pinnacle’; a £62.5m acquisition in London’s Landmark Pinnacle development in Canary Wharf, which is scheduled to open in November this year.

“The signing of ‘Cove – Centrum’ marks a milestone in the growth trajectory of the brand, which we are excited to expand into mainland Europe just two months after launch,” said Steven Haag, Managing Director of Cove. “Not only does this signal our intent on the continent, but it also is our first conversion of an existing hotel to serviced apartments which we feel is an increasingly likely path for growth.

“Flexible, thoughtfully designed accommodation that caters to both long and short stays has never been more in-demand, and the brand’s rapid expansion into Europe signals its relevance and appeal to investors, owners and travellers alike.”

JLL acted as advisor to to seller in this transaction, and more information about the new property is expected to emerge soon.

Main image credit: edyn 

Hamilton Wide Rocker Switch

Product watch: Hamilton launches new ‘Gray’ plate finishes

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Hamilton launches new ‘Gray’ plate finishes

Hamilton Litestat, an event parter for The Brit List Awards 2021, will showcase the breadth of its decorative wiring solutions for the hotel sector at the Independent Hotel Show, on October 4 – 5,  2021 at Olympia London. This will include the new ‘Gray’ plate finishes and USB-A&C charging devices…

Hamilton Wide Rocker Switch

On Stand 1464, the British brand Hamilton Litestat will display its latest on-trend metallic finishes, its vast design and finish capabilities, as well as solutions that deliver the functionality guests are demanding in today’s highly connected world.

New standout finishes

Hamilton’s latest on-trend ‘Gray’ finishes will be showcased at the Independent Hotel Show – Basalt Gray and Anthra Gray.  Inspired by Italian design trends, Basalt provides a teasing refractive aesthetic – grey base with a neutral cast and subtle bronze hue provides a warm, nature-inspired finish. Meanwhile, Anthra Gray, with a subtle granular finish, oozes volcanic strength and natural sophistication. Visitors to the show can collect free samples of the new finishes at Hamilton’s Stand, No. 1464.

Hamilton's new Basalt Gray finish

Image caption: Hamilton’s new Basalt Gray finish

Additionally, a new insert finish has also been added to Hamilton’s popular Hartland range, which will also be on display. Alongside Black and White inserts, a new Quartz Grey finish has been added to Hamilton’s insert options.

USB-A and USB-C – rapidly recharge

Now a guestroom necessity, Hamilton’s latest solutions to rapidly recharge smart devices while your guests relax and recharge themselves will also be on show. Available in 11 finishes and four sleek and stylish designs, Hamilton’s combined 2.4A USB-A and USB-C dual switched sockets make them ideal for the latest devices as well as legacy smart phones and tablets. While USB-A offers charging of up to 2.5W, USB-C facilitates extremely fast data transfer of up to 10 Gbps and power transfer of 100W for speedy charging. This solution is perfectly placed either side of beds for guest convenience.

Hamilton also offers a 18W USB-A and 45W USB-C Euro Module that delivers a superior rate of charge for high-capacity devices including the new MacBook Pro and iPad Pro. Ideally suited to positions at the desk area of a suite, the Euro Module can be fitted within a single plate or combined with other functional solutions within a multi-part bespoke plate. Supporting both legacy and long-term charging requirements, the Euro Module is in high guest demand and is a standout strength in Hamilton’s vast portfolio of products.

Wide Rocker – classic with a twist

Inspired by design trends in the Asian market and making a big impact in the hotel sector to welcome international guests, Hamilton’s Wide Rocker Switches will again be on show. The on-trend design is available in five Linea CFX collections, as well as Hartland CFX and Sheer CFX, and can be supplied in a range of finishes, including popular bronze and brass finishes. With 1, 2 and 3-gang switch configurations available, as well as 1-gang Push-To-Make (PTM), Double Pole and Intermediate Wide Rockers, these switches provide a functional solution with a stylish contemporary design twist.

Made to order

As a British family-run company, Hamilton has its headquarters in Bristol and it’s from here that it offers its bespoke service. It has the capability to cost-effectively produce custom-made plates to support customer requirements, including low volume requests. Configurations particularly suited to the hotel sector could include a plate featuring a Euro Module, Schuko Socket, American Socket, and double switched socket.

As well as offering bespoke functionality, Hamilton offers bespoke plate finishes courtesy of its Paintable service. Switch plates and sockets can be powder coated to match RAL, British Standards or Natural Colour System references, ensuring that they perfectly match a wall design scheme, soft furnishings, or other design details. This hassle-free service is even offered on low volume orders, with Hamilton having increased its capacity due to the service’s popularity.

Perception CFX – distraction-free design

For hotels featuring bold statement wallpaper or mural walls, Hamilton’s Perception CFX is the ideal transparent wiring solution. The switch plates and sockets have concealed fixings and a clear snap-on front plate that houses an insert of a chosen wall covering, making them almost imperceptible. Seamlessly matching the wall covering pattern, they allow the room’s décor to sing and make an impact on the guest without distraction.

Hamilton Litestat, which will be on Stand 1464 at the Independent Hotel Show, is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Hamilton Litestat (Wide Rocker Switches)

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

The fifth edition of Hotel Designs LIVE was sponsored and broadcasted from the Minotti London showroom. The virtual event for the design, architecture and hospitality industry was rounded off with an engaging panel discussion with leading designers and developers that explored the future of social spaces – from arrival experiences to lobby lounges and F&B hospitality…

Hotel Designs LIVE: Social Spaces

With all the noise around ‘social distancing’ and regulations against human interaction, many of industry’s leaders believe that tomorrow’s hotel scene will be a celebration of human connection. While we are at the T-junction on the road out of Covid-19 lockdowns, editor Hamish Kilburn invited world-renowned designers and hospitality experts to understand challenges and considerations to bear in mind as we re- open the doors of hospitality, to be social, once more.

On the panel:

Making a nod to an early session, which explored sensory design, Kilburn kicked off the discussion by asking the panel how designers are utilising the senses in design to evolve social spaces. “The advantages of hotels is that you can offer different levels of stimulations through transition spaces as well as in social spaces,” explained Beth Campbell, CEO, Campbell House. “This helps to build the momentum and makes the experience even more meaningful.”

Charlie MacGregor, Founder, The Student Hotel (TSH), joined the panel as an example of a forward-thinking hotelier, who was among the first to push hospitality into the lifestyle lane. “By making the lobby the beating heart of a hotel, you immediately set the scene – and energy level – for guests and locals alike who are arriving,” he said. “With Covid, we have seen this new generation of corporate travellers, where people are digital nomads and want to work as well as play in spaces.”

The conversation logically went into the territory of creating subtle boundaries in public areas, which is a topic that has become high on the agenda since the Covid-19 pandemic, but also as public areas in lifestyle hotels are being designed to be multifunctional. “Lighting is becoming more and more important when it comes to curate these spaces,” He said. “As well as building spaces, you can separate them and change them as the day goes on. When designing these areas, understand the possible mise en scènes is paramount.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), which was produced by CUBE and includes Product Watch Pitches by Vaughan, Leaflike and Luxiona:

The full recordings of all Hotel Designs LIVE sessions are available on-demand.

Since you’re here…

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GROHE X

GROHE wins Red Dot Award 2021 for GROHE X

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
GROHE wins Red Dot Award 2021 for GROHE X

Digital platform GROHE X, which has attracted around 222,000 visitors since it launched earlier this year, wins Red Dot Award…

Only a few months after its launch, which Hotel Designs was proud to be a part of, the digital experience hub GROHE X has been awarded the internationally renowned Red Dot Award Brands & Communication Design 2021 in the category “Digital Solutions“. Prof. Dr. Peter Zec, initiator, and CEO of Red Dot, emphasised the importance of digital solutions for the success of brands and companies, especially in today’s world.

GROHE X

“As an award winner, GROHE has proven that they think ‘outside the box’. The brand knows how to act quickly in times of crisis and use upheavals for new design approaches. In this way, they master important challenges and also make a valuable contribution to the further development of society.”

The brand experience of today and tomorrow

With GROHE X, LIXIL in the EMENA region has developed the first digital platform of its kind in the industry for its GROHE sanitary brand together with strong partners VOK DAMS, IBM and D’art. As a content hub tailored to the interests of industry target groups with zones dedicated to product, inspiration and know-how transfer alongside service-oriented offers such as tutorials and specialist events, and opportunities to connect with brand experts, GROHE X facilitates a unique user experience. Since its launch in mid-March this year, GROHE X has quickly proven to be a success. The current visitor numbers – currently 2,500 daily – prove that GROHE X is a successful creative solution that meets the communication challenges of both today and the future. GROHE X is thus seen as a driver of innovation in its own right, serving not as a replacement for traditional communication, but as a starting point for a new era of brand presentation and communication in the B2B world. GROHE X already presents itself as an alternative that is flexible enough to keep pace with the rapid developments in communication.

“GROHE X is much more than a digital trade show replacement and the 35,000 visitors and 70,000 views in the first week alone have proven us right,” commented Jonas Brennwald, Leader LIXIL EMENA and Co-CEO Grohe AG. “The platform is designed to perfectly position our communication for the future. We are delighted that with the Red Dot award we have now also received international confirmation that we have created something that is not only well designed, but also an extremely successful brand communication tool.”

Red Dot Award “Brands & Communication Design”

With around 20,000 entries, the annual Red Dot Award is one of the largest design competitions in the world. Its origins date back to 1955 and the famous Red Dot award has long since established itself as one of the most coveted seals of quality for good design. From products, brand communication and creative projects to design concepts and prototypes, the Red Dot Award documents the most important trends worldwide.

GROHE is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: GROHE

Product watch: Here’s what’s new from Arte

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Here’s what’s new from Arte

In order to kickstart this month’s editorial spotlight on wallcoverings, Hotel Designs is taking a closer look at Arte’s collections that have launched over the summer…

Arte is known for creating outrageously creative – and magnificent – wallcoverings. Since building its foundations in 1981, the brand can be found adorning the walls of both residential homes, as well as commercial interiors in more than 80 countries worldwide.

Each year, an in-house team of experienced designers work on developing new collections, striving for perfection and trendsetting design whilst simultaneously surprising the design industry with what’s possible to achieve with wallcoverings.

With the aim to continues to inspire and challenge, setting the bar for innovative design, Arte’s latest collections that were recently launched take ‘art outside the frame’ to a whole new level of detail.

Mimic Moth

Mimic Moth is an exclusive preview launching this autumn, ahead of the full collection (and third collaboration) from Arte x Moooi set to launch for SS22, inspired by new Extinct Animals. Like the current Moooi Wallcovering designs, this collection will be made from unexpected and luxurious materials. A collection in harmonious colours that brings joy and balance.

This 3D wallcovering with a soft suede look is inspired by the Mimic Moth’s shape and habitat. The wallcovering’s design is made up of embossed Mimic Moths surrounded by their favourite flowers.

Queen Cobra

Queen Cobra is the next family member of the new Moooi Wallcovering collection, which follows the launch of Mimic Moth. The collection depicts majestic looking snakes that were called so because of their long coiling hairs resembling the hairstyle of Queen Tanjii of Kemet. According to old scriptures, the snakes were gold coloured and didn’t have scales. Their skin seemed made of dried grass.

The wallcovering Queen Cobra is made from hand-woven sisal fibres, inspired by the Queen Cobra’s rhythmic curves and grassy habitat. The design comprises round overlapping shapes in a pattern with a hypnotic feel to it.

Icons

Icons is a versatile wallcoverings collection, featuring seven designs across a variety of heavier textures including shagreen leather and boucle fabric, as well as lighter options such as real rattan and silk imitation on non- woven backing. With a combination of geometric block patterns, floral motifs as well as plains in a palette of rich earthy colours, on matt and glossy finishes, designs can be easily combined in a single space to add depth to any scheme.

Arte is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Arte

25hours-hotel-firenze-paola-navone

25hours to arrive in Italy this September

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
25hours to arrive in Italy this September

The first 25hours hotel in Italy will open in Florence this September, with anything-but-subtle interiors by Milan-based designer Paola Navone…

The 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino occupies a central location in Florence, in the Santa Maria Novella district, which is among the most authentic and lesser-known neighbourhoods in the Italian city and a little off the beaten track.

25hours-hotel-firenze-paola-navone

The 171-key boutique hotel is situated in the former premises of Monte de ‘Pegni – the lending company of the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze – and has its central core of 66 rooms in the original monastery next to the eponymous church of San Paolino. These hallowed halls are now imbued with fresh creative energy thanks to controlled demolitions, new building elements and restored areas. Enhancing the historic core is a new annexe boasting another 104 guest rooms with balconies, as well as the Casetta del Giardino, a small apartment with a private garden and pool. 

Created by Milan-based designer Paola Navone and her team, the hotel was inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy and is brimming with light-hearted allusions to this legendary work: scenes from Hell and Paradise are playfully interspersed, offering an illuminating tour through Dante’s world of virtues and vices. Situated beneath the vast glass dome, the Restaurant San Paolino is the centrepiece of the hotel in the historical palazzo. Round about are a green courtyard garden, a classic Negroni bar and a typical alimentari – a grocery store for the neighbourhood and lively piazza that serves a small selection of food and drinks to suit the time of day.

The San Paolino restaurant epitomises Italian cuisine, offering the best produce from all regions of the country, although Tuscany occupies a special place on the menu. Changing with the seasons, there are also a few dishes from designer Paola Navone’s personal recipe collection. Guests perusing the wine list will find exclusively curated recommendations from choice wineries in Tuscany. Dining beneath the glass dome at the centre of the impressive palazzo is meant to be fun – and the imaginative design merely adds to this experience. San Paolino is a great place to meet at any time of day, and the hospitality space expands into the playful courtyard garden during the warmer months.

The Companion Bar at 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino appears both quintessentially Italian and strikingly international. Its signature products are bitter-sweet classics like Negroni, but include new interpretations that add a playfully seasonal touch to these flavours. The Companion Bar welcomes its guests from the aperitivo to the late-night drink and is establishing itself as a fixed star in the Florentine night life. The traditional ‘hole in the wall’, the buchetta del vino, allows guests to enjoy their glass of wine on the pavement in front of the establishment. Table bookings are not available, but personal advice from the bar crew certainly is.

Alimentari actually just means ‘food’ in Italian. But the word is also used to describe neighbourhood corner stores selling groceries and everyday items. The 25hours Hotel in Florence has its own alimentari on the small Piazza San Paolino. Besides paninis, sandwiches and salads, it also includes a traditional-style wine shop offering a selection of local products and specialities for gourmets – ideal for a culinary tour through the world of Italian delicacies. The range was curated by S. Forno, a legendary local bakery, and all of the freshly baked products come straight from their ovens, of course.

Main image credit: 25hours

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

Video exclusive: The making of The Other House (part 1)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Video exclusive: The making of The Other House (part 1)

The first video in our exclusive concept-to-completion series with The Other House takes a tour inside what will soon be its first hotel – AKA, residents’ club. Editor Hamish Kilburn speaks to the brand’s CEO and the design team, which including Bergman Design House and architecture firm Falconer Chester Hall, to understand more about the design narrative that will be sheltered inside…

The Other House Club Flat Kitchen in blue and mustard

A new era of hospitality is on the horizon. The Other House is an innovative concept that we first explored earlier this year, which, right on cue, has raised some eyebrows recently. Since joining a panel discussion on ‘a new era of lifestyle’ at Hotel Designs LIVE in May, CEO & founder Naomi Heaton – a self-confessed newcomer into the hospitality arena who aims to disrupt conventional approaches to hotel design and development – has invited our cameras in to capture the concept-to-completion story behind brand’s first property. Sheltered inside Harrington Hall, a heritage property, The Other House South Kensington will offer 200 Club Flats – all of which will feature signature, fully fitted and contemporary design – for leisure travellers and corporate visitors alike. 

With less than one year until the first residents’ club opens, here’s what we discovered when we took a sneak peek inside the building. During our access-all-areas visit, we spoke to Heaton about the pillars of the brand. In addition, we caught up with the architect at Falconer Chester Hall, Alastair Shepherd, who is responsible for carving out the body of the hospitality experience. And, to make things really interesting, we even made a visit to Bergman Design House to speak to Marie Soliman, the interior designer tasked to bring her sketches and renders to life, while sourcing as much as she possibly can locally and sustainably.

Who’s who? 

Elevating the traditional long stay and serviced apartment models, the new brand will combine beautifully designed apartments – complete with fully fitted kitchens, living and sleeping areas – with a private club exclusively for residents and members to relax and enjoy, complete with two bars, spa and fitness studio. For a local vibe, the bold public spaces will include a destination bar and all-day dining bistro (renders of these areas will be available shortly).

While targetting an audience that is conscious and cares deeply about the environmental impact hotel development can have on the planet, sustainability was one of the first pillars for The Other House. “We take a sustainable approach to renovating existing buildings and is committed to making a positive impact on the community, our employees and the environment,” explained Heaton in an earlier interview with Hotel Designs. “Our residents will be a part of our environmental journey so they can make a measurable, personal difference. There will be a focus on health and wellbeing at all the guest touchpoints and we will be using, for example, recyclable packaging, healthy, sustainably produced food and British-made furniture.”

With eight categories of Club Flats – Club Town, Club Garden, Club Courtyard, Club Mezz, Club Class, Club Vault, Club Turret and Club Access – the units range from 258 sqft (24sqm) to 581 sqft (54sqm), as well as two-, three- and four-bedroom options. The intelligent use of space revolves around the living area (rather than the bedroom) just as it does in the home, which was key for the brand to create a real sense of place and comfort.

What’s more, despite all the noise around the new era of luxury suggesting a paired back, even removed, stance on technology is the way forward, central to The Other House will be a downloadable app that offers personalisation and control through on-demand access to hotel-style services. The software, which, if seamless, meaningful, discreet and easy to use, will become a revolutionary element of the hospitality experience at The Other House. It will enable residents to manage their entire stay andexperience; tailoring their hospitality journey to their own specific needs and requirements. As a result, the software will certainly answer to modern demands that are calling for more personalised experiences.

For long-stay guests, The Other House will provide a new alternative to renting, offering any length stays, around the clock security, access to hotel style services and the very best of city living. The first of this type of accommodation that the UK has seen, it will also offer flexibility for residents to book in and out. With stays bookable from a day to a year, The Other House offers a stylish solution for those looking for a city base. And services such as clothes and luggage storage between trips makes it perfect for guests looking for a regular London pied-à-terre a few days each week.

Establishing itself as a ‘one to watch’ on the glabal hospitality scene, with a forward-thinking concept and immersive design scheme, The Other House South Kensington is the first residents’ club to be launched. The brand is on track to open in other ‘villages’ throughout central London, including Covent Garden by 2023, before rolling out internationally. 

In the next video in our exclusive concept-to-completion editorial series with The Other House, produced by CUBE, we will rejoin the development and design team ahead of the opening of the brand’s first residents’ club. In this video, we will explore more about the technology behind-the-scenes, as well as understand how the drawings, sketches and renderings have been brought to life. By then, we may also have more news and exclusive design details about the interior scheme behind the heavy doors of the brand’s second property in Covent Garden. 

Main image credit: The Other House | Video credit: CUBE

Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface Trends

Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface design trends

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface design trends

The fifth edition of Hotel Designs LIVE, sponsored by and filmed from Minotti London, invited world renowned designers, architects and hospitality experts to, once again, define the point of hotel design on an global scale while keeping the conversation flowing throughout. The third session of the day looked at interior design surface trends…

Hotel Designs LIVE: Surface Trends

Trends… not the most popular word used by interior designers in the hotel design arena, but ignore them at your peril as we enter uncharted waters following the largest global cultural and behavioural shift the industry has perhaps ever experienced. Challenging conventional trend forecasts, for the third session during Hotel Designs LIVE, which was broadcasted from the Minotti London showroom on August 10, editor Hamish Kilburn invited a handful of interior designers from all corners of the design arena to discuss meaningful surface trends.

Other sessions of the day included:

  • A design assault on the senses – watch now on-demand.
  • Designing the perfect nights’ sleep – watch now on-demand.
  • Social spaces in 2021 & beyond – this session will be available to watch shortly

The third session of the day, which followed the panel discussion on sleep performance, went beyond colour schemes to identify real trends and talking points in surface design. More than ever, as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis, surfaces have come under question in the debate around hygiene. But, in the exclusive panel discussion with leading designers and hospitality experts, we went beyond the clinical to explore interesting and vibrant surfaces – from paint and tiles to textiles and worktops – that give all areas of the hotel more personality and meaning.

On the panel:

The conversation started by addressing the elephant in the room. Kilburn wanted to know if there were products and materials on the market at the moment that answered both to the demands around sustainability as well as hygiene. “It’s actually quite difficult to achieve both,” explained George Couyas. “Let’s use paint as an example. Usually, when products are man-made to be durable, wipeable and hygienic, there is usually a process that results in the eco credentials somewhat diminishing.” Through his research, and day-to-day managing residential clients whose demands for eco have somewhat evolved over the last few years, a few brands have recently made it onto Couyas’ radar for being both sustainable and robust.

Next, Kilburn introduced Beverly and Dereck Joubert, the founders of Great Plains. What sets this dynamic duo aside from other hoteliers is their pure involvement in all of their projects; they design and source everything – and having fulfilled a career filming wildlife for National Geographic, the pair have a unique stance when it comes to sustainable development and design. “Through 40 years of travel and understanding different cultures, we have been able to tell some really interesting stories through design,” explained Beverly Joubert. “What we also like to do is design using up-cycled materials. So, for example, near one of our camps we heard that wooden railway sleepers were replaced by concrete. It was a great opportunity for us and those sleepers have become the flooring in that camp.”

Continuing the conversation around sustainability, but moving into the urban luxury arena, Shalini Misra agreed that re-using materials and items adds value to the overall design as well as the eco credentials of the project. “Every material can be sustainable if it’s a reclaimed version of it,” she said. “When it comes to hygiene, some materials are better than others. Bamboo, for example, is one of my favourites at the moment as it is highly renewable, very quick to grow and extremely versatile.”

When it comes to extraordinary surfaces, Fameed Khalique who was described by the Financial Times as “the go-to supplier of exotic and experimental surfaces for walls, floors, ceilings and furniture,” has a library full of creative surface design solutions. “We have this reputation, and we do the odd exotic thing, but realistic the majority of the work we do is driven by the client and a problem we need to solve,” he said. “We are working with a designer in the middle east who wanted to use straw marquetry on a mass scale, which isn’t sustainable, nor realistic. So, we worked with the designer and found a solution that used sustainable wood to create a wood-veneer finishing that looked like straw marquetry but can be used on a large scale. Interestingly, that actually led to us launching a new collection utilising those materials and that design.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), which was produced by CUBE and includes Product Watch Pitches by Hamilton Litestat, Schlüter Systems, Mosaico and Milliken:

The full recordings of the first session (A design assault on the senses) and the second session (Designing the perfect nights’ sleep) are now available to watch on-demand. The final session (Social spaces in 2021 & beyond) will be available to watch on-demand shortly.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

The Brit List Awards 2021: Shortlist announced

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The Brit List Awards 2021: Shortlist announced

The shortlist for The Brit List Awards 2021 has been announced, with more than 130 individuals and projects – the most finalists in the campaign’s history – selected across nine categories. The winners will be unveiled in spectacular style at the awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 inside London’s famous cabaret venue, PROUD Embankment…

The Brit List Awards 2021 shortlist

Regarded and respected globally as the industry’s most widespread campaign to identify the leading interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands, The Brit List Awards 2021 has unveiled this year’s shortlist, which includes more than 130 individuals and projects.

The finalists, listed below, have been invited to attend The Brit List Awards’ annual award ceremony, which, following last year’s virtual affair, will take place live in the extravagant cabaret venue, PROUD Embankment. At the event, as well as the individual winners being announced, The Brit List 2021, a publication that will profile the top 25 designers, architects and hoteliers, will also be unveiled.

The Brit List Awards is Hotel Designs’ the nationwide search to find the most influential interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands operating in Britain.

Now in its fifth year, The Brit List Awards is Hotel Designs’ the nationwide search to find the most influential interior designers, architects, hoteliers and brands operating in Britain. This year’s meticulous process began months ago when Hotel Designs opened up nominations and applications to its loyal readers. Since then, the expert judging panel have taken over to whittle down the shortlist as well as decide upon the individual winners.

“As I cast my eyes down this year’s shortlist, I am reminded once more that Britain is, and will no-doubt remain, a major pin on the design, architecture and hospitality map.” – Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs.

“One only has to look at this year’s entries to be able to see that Britain is a melting pot for creative design and authentic hospitality,” explains editor Hamish Kilburn who will take the microphone on November 3 to host this year’s awards. “It’s sensational to see, despite obvious adversities, that the design, architecture and hospitality industry has risen to the challenge, once more, to present forward-thinking solutions in the global arena. As I cast my eyes down this year’s shortlist, I am reminded once more that Britain is, and will no-doubt remain, a major pin on the design, architecture and hospitality map. Here, on this tiny speck of land, we incubate innovation, nurture talent and amplify meaningful initiatives that challenge conventional approached to hotel design and hospitality.”

Adding more sparkle to this year’s live awards ceremony will be the sponsors and partners. They are: Crosswater (Headline Partner)Hamilton Litestat (Event Partner)Duravit (Event Partner), Schlüter Systems (Showcase Partner), Leaflike (Decorative Partner), GROHE (Broadcasting Partner), NEWH (Industry Partner) British Institute of Interior Design (Industry Partner) and CUBE (Videography Partner).

The shortlisted finalists for The Brit List Awards 2021 are: 

Interior Designer of the Year

Name Studio
Alan McVitty M STUDIO LONDON
Alex Kravetz Alex Kravetz Design
Beverley Bayes Sparcstudio
Clare McDonald Design Command
Clara Mason Dexter Moren Associates
Craig McKie Bell & Swift Ltd
Dale Atkinson Rosendale Design
David Mason Scott Brownrigg
Dennis Irvine Dennis Irvine Studio
Ed Warner Motionspot
Fiona Thompson Richmond International
Geraldine Dohogne Beyond Design
Hamish Brown 1508 London
Hayley Roy Harp Design
Henry Chebaane Blue Sky Hospitality
Hilary Lancaster Fusion Interiors Group
Ilse Crawford StudioIlse
Jeremy Grove Sibley Grove
Jouin Manku Jouin Manku
Kirsty Vance I Am London
Marie Soliman Bergman Interiors
Mark Bithrey B3 Designers
Neil Andrew Perkins&Will
Nicholas J Hickson THDP
Ravi Lakhaney Bailey London
Robert Angell Robert Angell Design International
Sally Proctor Majik House
Samantha McCulloch ICA
Sara Browett Sara Copeland Interiors Ltd
Scott Torrance 3DReid
Simon Kincaid Conran and Partners
Simon Rawlings David Collins Studio
Solomija Bogusz Interior Designer
Suzanne Garuda Garuda Design
Tina Norden Conran and Partners

Architect of the Year

Name Studio
Adam Hall Falconer Chester Hall
Alastair Shepherd Falconer Chester Hall Architects
Alexandra Birmpili Kappa planning Ltd
Ali Alammar Alamar Architects
Amrit Naru ADP Architects
Ben Adams Ben Adams Architects
Catarina Pina-Bartrum LDS Architects
Cathryn Crisp Randell Design Group
Christos Passas Zaha Hadid Architects
Doug Pearson 3DReid
Ed Murray Dexter Moren Associates
Gordon Ferrier 3D Reid
Graham Barr jmarchitects
Herbert Lui Dexter Moren Associates
James Dilley Jestico + Whiles
Jen Samuel 3DReid
Jonny Sin ReardonSmith Architects
Julie Humphryes Archer Humphryes Architects
Luke Fox Foster + Partners
Mark Bruce EPR Architects
Mark Kelly PLP Architecture
Matthew Salter HGP Architects
Metehan Apak Dawson Design Associates
Nicholas de Klerk Translation Architecture
Richard Coutts BACA Architects
Richard Holland Holland Harvey Architects
Sarah Murphy Jestico + Whiles
Simon Whittaker Orms
Tom Lindblom Principal, Architect
Tony Kho Trehearne Architects
Yasmine Mahmoudieh Yasmine Mahmoudieh Studio

Hotelier of the Year 

Name Hotel
Andrew Hollett Kettering Park Hotel and Spa
Charles Oak The Londoner
Conor O’Leary Gleneagles
David Connell South Lodge Hotel & Spa
Dominic Sauls Qbic London City Hotel
Edward Workman The Newt
Elli Jafari The Standard London
Federico Ciampi Mayfair Townhouse
Franck Arnold Savoy, London
Gareth Banner The Ned
Grace Leo The Relais Henley
Guillaume Marly Hotel Café Royal
Hector Ross The Mitre, Hampton Court
James Clarke Hilton Bankside London
John Scanlon 45 Park Lane
Julian Hudson Fellows House Cambridge – Curio by Hilton Collection
Marie-Paule Nowlis Sofitel London St James
Michael Bonsor Rosewood London
Michael Mason-Shaw Hyatt Place London City East
Murray Ward Soho Farmhouse
Olivia Richli Heckfield Place
Paul Bayliss Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester
Paul Skinner DUKES LONDON
Robin Hutson THE PIG Hotels
Sergio Leandro Sea Containers London
Simon Mahon The Grand York
Stuart Geddes The Lanesborough, London
Thomas Agius Ferrante The Grove of Narberth
Will Ashworth Watergate Bay Hotel

Best in Tech

Brand Product/project
Lutron Athena
SONANCE Peninsula London
Majik House Absoluxe Suites
GROHE/LIXIL GROHE Plus
Franklite L11 Tuneable

The Eco Award 

Brand Product/project
Harrison Spinks The Sprint Collection
Hypnos Contract Beds Various products
Leaflike Pan Pacific London
GROHE/LIXIL Cradle to Cradle certified products
Video Tree Re Charge
CTD Architectural Tiles The Global Collection
Yasmine Mahmoudieh Flow
Clarke & Clarke Eco Sustainable Weaves
Ozone Clean OC Range
Well-Lit Various products
Barber Osgerby AXOR One
Siminetti Seasons Collection
Silentnight Group Hosptiality Various products

Best in British Product Design

Brand Product/project
Newmor Wallcoverings Healthcare Collection
Franklite Perry Range
Franklite L11 Tuneable
Hypnos Contract Beds Various products
SMD Textiles, ILIV Exotic Garden
Edelweiss Pianos The Solis
The Monkey Puzzle Tree Metamorphosis
The Collective Agency Swell
Ziad Alonaizy Eileen Cabinet
Dernier & Hamlyn Bespoke lighitng for Nobu London Portman Square
Wandsworth The Baton (and other) switches
Morgan Rakino
Morgan Kaya

The Rising Star Award (new for 2021)

Name Brand/Studio/University
Adam Wardale Middletons Hotel, York
Aleksandra Tredez The Lost Poet (Cubic Studios)
Matthew Maganga University of Kent
Sophie Piggot Concorde BGW Group
Sarah Yuma Dexter Moren Associates

The International Award (new for 2021)

Name Brand
Wilderness Safaris Wilderness Safaris
Bill Bensley BENSLEY
DLR Group Madinah Gate
noa* network of architecture noa* network of architecture
YES.design.architecture YES.design.architecture
Royal Mansour Marrakech Royal Mansour Marrakech

There is no shortlist for the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry, which will be the final award presented at the exclusive ceremony.

How to attend The Brit List Awards 2021 – the awards ceremony 

All designers, architects and hoteliers that have been shortlisted will receive an email asking them to confirm their complimentary ticket to attend the awards ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment. Outside of the shortlist, designers, architects, hoteliers and developers can purchase tickets here (£10 + VAT per ticket if purchased before September 10)*. Suppliers, and anyone else wishing to attend, can click here to purchase their tickets (£99 + VAT per ticket if purchased before September 10)*.

*After September 10, tickets for designers, architects and hoteliers will inflate to £20 + VAT per ticket. For suppliers, tickets will inflate to £150 +VAT per ticket. There are limited number of tickets on sale, which will be issued out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards 2021/Hotel Designs

Independent Hotel Show Awards GM of the Future 2019

Shortlist announced for Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021 

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Shortlist announced for Independent Hotel Show Awards 2021 

The shortlist has been revealed and public voting is now open for the 9th annual Independent Hotel Show Awards, which celebrate the highly skilled professionals working in the UK independent and boutique hotel sector…

Independent Hotel Show Awards GM of the Future 2019

The results of the Independent Hotel Show Awards, along with the winners of the Good Hotel Guide’s César Award, will be announced on October 4 on the Independent Hotel Show’s Innovation Stage.

Across two days of judging, a panel of industry experts whittled down the nominees across two key categories: Independent Hotelier and GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders.

The Independent Hotelier award recognises an excellent independent hotelier or hotelier partnership with a reputation for pushing boundaries and creating exceptional guest experiences.

Since the Awards launched in 2012, the independent hoteliers recognised in this category have continued to drive change and innovation in the sector.

Brenda Collin, EVP Europe, Preferred Hotels & Resorts and judge for the Independent Hotel Show Awards, said: “The caliber of entries this year was exceptionally high and therefore difficult choices had to be made.

“Congratulations should be offered to all the nominees who, without exception, had given back in some way to society in addition to their day jobs. Our industry is so well served by exceptional people and these awards showcase the great leaders who will inspire future nominees.”

The shortlisted hoteliers for the Independent Hotelier award are:  

  • Joanne Taylor- Stagg FIH, MI, General Manager, The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences
  • Charlie Luxton and Dan Brod, Co-Owners, The Talbot Inn, The Beckford Arms and The Lord Poulett Arms
  • Laurence Beere FIH, MI, Co-Owner, The Queensberry Hotel
  • Henrik Muehle, General Manager, Flemings Mayfair
  • James Thomson OBE, Owner, The Witchery and Prestonfield
  • Ross Grieve FIH, MI, Managing Director, Seaham Hall & Luxury Lodges

The shortlisted nominees for GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders, are:  

  • Penn Chai, Room Division Manager, Castle Hotel Windsor
  • Kostadin Dimitrov, Front of House Manager, Hotel Brooklyn MCR
  • Juris Dubrovskis, Executive Housekeeper, The Athenaeum Hotel and Residences
  • Rachel Henley, Hotel Manager, The Fife Arms
  • Nathan Parkin, Operations Manager, Lakeside Hotel and Spa
  • Anna Sirba, Operations Manager, Salcombe Harbour Hotel

Commenting on the GM of the Future award entries, The Master Innholders Chairman David Morgan-Hewitt FIH MI, said: “We received a large number of excellent applications, each showing great talent and passion for the hotel industry, which made it very difficult to select a shortlist of just six candidates. Each of those chosen displayed an exceptional level of involvement in the industry and the qualities of a good leader, and I would like to congratulate them on their well-deserved success.”

Elena Attanasio, Independent Hotel Show Event Director, added: “After a tough 18 months for the hotel industry we’re thrilled to be announcing the shortlist for the Independent Hotel Show Awards.

“Our shortlisted Independent Hoteliers have shown incredible strength and leadership in the face of adversity and our GM of the Future nominees should be celebrated for their enthusiasm, hard work and commitment over the past year. Now more than ever it’s important to recognise the exceptional hospitality professionals that make up the UK’s boutique and independent hotel sector.

“We can’t wait to announce the winners of the Independent Hotel Show Awards at the event on 4 October and to see the hotel community all together, in person, once more.”

For the Independent Hotelier award, the judges’ picks will be combined with a public industry vote to decide the ultimate winners. The judges were as follows:

  • Brenda Collin, Executive Vice President, Europe, Preferred Hotels & Resorts
  • Charlotte Evans, Group Publishing Director, Condé Nast Johansens
  • Christian Graf, General Manager, Middle Eight
  • David Noble, Director of Hospitality and Leisure, James Hallam
  • Fiona Duncan, Travel Writer, Sunday Telegraph
  • Juliet Kinsman, Sustainability Editor, Condé Nast Traveller
  • Peter Hancock FIH, MI, Chief Executive, Pride of Britain Hotels
  • Richard Fraiman, Chief Executive, The Good Hotel Guide
  • Simon Numphud FIH, Managing Director, AA Media
  • Sue Williams FIH, MI, General Manager, Whatley Manor Hotel
  • Susan d’Arcy, Hotels, Luxury Travel and Wellness Editor, The Times and The Sunday Times
  • Zoe Monk, Editor, Boutique Hotelier

The judging panel for GM of the Future, in partnership with The Master Innholders, was as follows:

  • David Morgan-Hewitt FIH, MI, Chairman, The Master Innholders and Managing Director, The Goring
  • Tamsyn Mann, Regional People Manager, Cirrus Inns and 2019 ‘One to Watch’ highly commended GM of the Future
  • Elena Attanasio, Event Director, Independent Hotel Show
  • Sal Gowili FIH MI, GM of The Ritz London
  • Dr Hilary Cooke FIH MI, Director, Merlin Consultancy
  • Robin Hutson FIH, MI, CEO, Home Grown Hotels and Lime Wood Group
  • Wallace Vincent FIH, Executive Secretary, The Master Innholders

Find out more about each of the shortlisted individuals and cast your vote at independenthotelshow.co.uk/awards.   

The Independent Hotel Show, presented by James Hallam, takes place on 4-5 October 2021 at Olympia London. Register for your complimentary pass at independenthotelshow.co.uk

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show

A guestroom inside M Social

M Social arrives in Europe with hotel opening in Paris

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
M Social arrives in Europe with hotel opening in Paris

Millennium Hotels and Resorts is marking the first outpost for the M Social brand in Europe, with the opening of M Social Hotel Paris Opera on August 31. The new lifestyle offering will merge the ‘elegance of the historical Parisian lifestyle with contemporary design, vibrant art and inviting rooms’ to create an enchanting retreat for guests to gather, work and discover all that Paris has to offer. Let’s take a sneak peek inside…

A guestroom inside M Social

Following the opening of M Social in New York’s Times Square earlier this summer, lifestyle hospitality brand M Social is about to open a new hotel in Paris. M Social Hotel Paris Opera, which will shelter 163 rooms, will become the brand’s debut hotel in Europe when it opens later this month. Located at 12 Boulevard Haussmann, the hotel is in the heart of Opéra making it within walking distance to some of the city’s most famous landmarks including the Louvre, the Sacré-Cœur and the Moulin Rouge. To cater to a new diverse community of travellers, EUR 5.4 million was spent on refurbishing the former Millennium Paris Opera into more contemporary lodgings.

“People are in search of new and exciting experiences. M Social is all about creativity and passion. Combine this with the hotel’s central location and you have a winning formula to satiate travellers’ wanderlust,” said Mr Kwek Leng Beng, Executive Chairman of Millennium & Copthorne Hotels Limited. “With Europe re-opening, this is an opportune time for us to introduce M Social to this key gateway city.”

A hub for explorers, M Social Hotel Paris Opera features spaces that are designed to be accessible, comfortable and practical to guests’ needs with rooms that offer sweeping views overlooking the famous Boulevard Haussmann. The hotel is conveniently located near major shopping, art and cultural attractions of the Paris Opera district. Guests are guaranteed to experience Paris like a true Parisian in the heart of the city of lights escaping the hustle and bustle in timelessly stylish surroundings.

Step back in time to 1920s elegance as soon as you walk through the revolving door into the hotel’s Art Deco foyer, made of marble surfaces, ornate chandeliers and a glass-roofed cupola. StudioCaid, the creative architects behind the newly renovated areas, describes the design concept as an exchange of styles that emphasises the contrast between classic and modern. They have incorporated into the design the artistic styles of the surrounding iconic infrastructures such as the Opera Garnier and the Louvre to create the “Hotel of Today”. Each room holds the history of Les Années Folles (in English “The Roaring Twenties”) and the future of M Social Paris. The newly renovated rooms allow guests to have an authentic Parisian experience within the comforts of today’s modern world. Accommodation choices range from cosy yet spacious Signature rooms that give views into the hotel’s peaceful inner courtyard to Grande Sweetie suites that offer separate living areas and breathtaking views of the Opera Garnier or the Sacré- Cœur.

The M Social brand was launched in Singapore in 2016. Millennium Hotels and Resorts plans to grow the brand in more cities with strong character, to capture diverse stories and build up a vibrant and creative community. M Social Hotel Paris Opera is the fourth location for the brand with other outposts in New York, Singapore and Auckland.

Main image credit: Millenium Hotels and Resorts

Hotel Designs LIVE - Session 2

(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Designing the perfect night’s sleep

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(In video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Designing the perfect night’s sleep

The fifth edition of Hotel Designs LIVE, sponsored by and filmed from Minotti London, invited world renowned designers, architects and hospitality experts to, once again, define the point of hotel design on an global scale while keeping the conversation flowing throughout. The second session of the day, sponsored by Silentnight Group, looked at how to create the perfect nights’ sleep. Grab a coffee and let’s begin…

Hotel Designs LIVE - Session 2

On August 10, designers, architects, hoteliers and developers from around the globe tuned in to watch the latest edition of Hotel Designs LIVE. The event, which first launched in June 2020 to keep the industry connected while keeping the conversation flowing, took place virtually – broadcasted at Minotti London’s Fitzrovia showroom, and included four engaging panel discussions with world-renowned hospitality and design experts on the following topics:

  • A design assault on the senses
  • Designing the perfect nights’ sleep
  • Design, beneath the surface
  • Social spaces in 2021 & beyond

Following an engaging and energetic first session, which looked at sensory design and hospitality, the audience were invited in to find their inner zen as attention switched towards sleep performance. With new innovations and technology taking bold leaps as each day passes, the aim for this session was to explore the science behind getting the best nights’ sleep.

On the panel:

  • Hannah Shore, Sleep Expert, (Session Sponsor)
  • Nathan Hutchins, Founder, Muza Lab
  • Ananth Ramaswamy, Project Architect, The Doyle Collection

To introduce this meaningful session, it was integral for the audience to first understand the role of a sleep expert, which was highlighted in detail in a recent masterclass Hotel Designs hosted with Silentnight Group. “We obviously look into sleep and sleep research,” Shore said. “We also look at sleep personalisation, how sleep is affected in different scenarios – ultimately to establish how the mattress can help us to sleep better.”

One term Shore uses throughout the session is ‘TLC’, which is an acronym for temperature, light and comfort; three areas she and her team look at when monitoring sleep performance.

Also on the panel was Nathan Hutchins, a designer believes the team TLC is about the whole package. “TLC is about making people feeling good,” he said. “It’s about the entire environment of the hotel and the bedroom that we all create, from the bed to the architecture to the design, around leading guests into a sense of security and relaxation as they enter their hotel room.”

Ananth Ramaswamy joined the panel wearing the Doyle Collection hat, which allowed the audience to use the brand as somewhat of a case study. “We design our bedrooms around sleep performance,” he explained. “We have eight hotels [in the collection], and all are sheltered in different architectural buildings. Sleep is a very important touchpoint and everything that surrounds the bed is very considered.”

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), which was produced by CUBE:

The full recordings of the first session, A design assault on the senses, is now available to watch on-demand.  The other two sessions (‘Design, beneath the surface and Social spaces in 2021 & beyond) will be available to watch on-demand shortly.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Exterior render of Tribe Budapest

Accor signs first TRIBE hotel in Hungary

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Accor signs first TRIBE hotel in Hungary

Hotel group Accor has announced the signing of the first TRIBE hotel in Hungary in partnership with Futureal, a leading real estate developer in CEE. The 250-key TRIBE hotel will open in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of 2023. The project is being described as a “major milestone” in Futureal’s operation as part of its new business line focusing on hotel developments…

Exterior render of Tribe Budapest

Accor is stepping up its ambition in the lifestyle market with the expansion of the TRIBE hotel brand in Europe. The Group has established a partnership with Futureal for the first TRIBE hotel not only in Hungary, but also in Eastern Europe. The new property will be located in the vibrant city centre in Kertész Street, one of the capital’s most frequented tourist areas. The construction work of the complex is expected to start at the end of 2021 with opening forecast for 2023.

“TRIBE is an alternative lifestyle hospitality brand with modern, unique and urban spaces designed in collaboration with local designer,” said Frank Reul, Vice President Development, Accor Northern Europe. “The TRIBE brand aims to surprise travellers with an original, exciting and carefully curated experience that focuses on style rather than price, making it a leader in the design-led affordable luxury lifestyle sector. The vibrant capital of Hungary, and the 7th district, is perfect destination for this sophisticated and contemporary brand, and is sure to win the hearts of guest and locals.”

The first TRIBE in Hungary will offer more than 250 rooms and spaces designed by the Puhl and Dajka Architects Studio to provide inspiring state-of-the-art technology and comfort. Guests and locals will benefit from a vibrant community experience including a sky bar with spectacular view and intimate atmosphere, bicycle rental, a fitness centre and a co-working office. Distinguished international design studios have contributed to the Hungarian hotel’s unique concept including DeSallesFlint Interior Design, as well as Nina Weinstein Lighting Design and Hilla Mayer Lighting Design. The investor of the hotel is Futureal Group, one of the leading real estate developers and investors in Central and Eastern Europe.

TRIBE is Futureal’s first hotel development, further expanding the company’s diverse portfolio. Building on its vast domestic and international real estate development experience, Futureal is going to enrich the centre of Budapest with a high-quality, unique and competitive hotel.

“Futureal is about to open a new chapter in its successful real estate operation of almost two decades as we are entering the hotel sector,” added Tibor Tatár, CEO of Futureal. “As a result of careful preparation, deep market research and planning, our latest business line can start with a remarkable project in Hungary. We believe that we have found the right partner in Accor to introduce an exciting brand to the local market, and to create a solid, long-term cooperation for realising further developments.”

The hotel is expected to welcome its first guests in 2023.

Main image credit: Accor

BEACH BUNGALOWS - INTERIOR

Sneak peek: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort’s latest renovation

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Sneak peek: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort’s latest renovation

The iconic luxury hotel in St. Lucia, Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, is expected to unveil new accommodations, upgraded culinary outlets, renovated spa and wellness facilities, and more in November of this year. Here’s what we know…

BEACH BUNGALOWS - INTERIOR

November 2021 will mark a new chapter for Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, which is situated on the shores of the picturesque St. Lucia coastline. Following a five-month closure, which began in June, the property will reopen its doors in November with an enhanced guest experience through a variety of property renovations and experiential upgrades. Set to debut are nine accommodations, a plethora of upgraded culinary outlets, brand-new beachside fitness facility and expansive amenity enhancements including a refreshed spa and new main pool area.

“Every aspect of the renovation has been thoughtfully designed to bring the best out of each space.” – Mark Sterner, General Manager.

“We are excited to kickstart this multi-phase renovation journey that will bring a new and elevated luxury guest experience to our already celebrated Sugar Beach property,” says Mark Sterner, General Manager. “Every aspect of the renovation has been thoughtfully designed to bring the best out of each space and provide a new level of service, privacy and hospitality to our valued guests. Those visiting in November can expect to see Sugar Beach completely revived and like they’ve never experienced before.”

The property is currently home to a variety of culinary destinations from fine-dining to al-fresco, all set to get a luxury upgrade come November. The fine-dining restaurant, located in the main house, will see an interior refresh that will further show off its grand location overlooking the beach and UNESCO Pitons, alongside the addition of a new open-air bar experience. Down by the beach at the popular al-fresco dining locations, a new barefoot luxury culinary journey will await. Various enhancements will be unveiled including the expansion of undercover outdoor seating areas that will allow guests to dine beachside no matter the weather.

The iconic main pool sitting beneath the edge of the UNESCO Pitons mountains, will be completely renovated to debut what the brand is calling ‘a totally new guest experience’. A multi-tiered landscaped design of the pool area is being built to house a fleet of exclusive luxury cabanas and a brand-new poolside bar where guests can order light bites and drinks. Also overlooking the main pool, a special events lawn is being landscaped to accommodate the increased requests for private celebrations and functions.

Catering to the soaring demand for private accommodations, November will see the addition of nine new luxury guest rooms. Four one-bedroom beachfront bungalows are being built right on the shoreline, while Five one-bedroom luxury cottages are being built higher up the mountain. Each will unveil a contemporary interior design with a fresh, neutral colour palette, complemented by unmatched views of the estate gardens, Pitons and beach.

A brand-new spa and wellness experience will also debut come November. The property’s award-winning Rainforest Spa, nestled in the heart of an actual rainforest surrounded by lush foliage and soaring mountain vistas, will add one couples treehouse treatment room. Bringing the total treatment room count to 10, the new couples treehouse will be built on stilts and perched high above the ground.

SPA COUPLES TREATMENT ROOM

Render credit: Viceroy Hotels & Resort

With a completely different design to the existing treatment rooms, the new treehouse will have large glass windows that overlook the serene forest, an indoor free-standing bathtub, outdoor shower and balcony that will provide various options for couples to relax before and after their treatments. A new spa partner will also be announced when the property reopens alongside an exciting, revised treatment menu, and a refreshed lobby space. A new wellness and fitness facility is also being built more centrally located right on the beach and will be home to a gymnasium and yoga studio.

As Sugar Beach is set to unveil this new chapter of its legacy, those visiting from November 2021 will be the first to experience the enhanced product that will be amplified with the property’s well-known, top of the line service and impeccable island hospitality.

image of Louise Sawyer Bacou inside her London Studio

In Conversation With: Furniture designer Louise Sawyer Bacou

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In Conversation With: Furniture designer Louise Sawyer Bacou

To kickstart our month putting ‘beds’ under the editorial spotlight, editor Hamish Kilburn speaks to furniture designer Louise Sawyer Bacou, Director at La Maison London, to understand the details, challenges and triumphs that came when confronting one of her most bizarre briefs to design a bed literally unlike any other…

image of Louise Sawyer Bacou inside her London Studio

As far as handcrafted furniture designers go, Louise Sawyer Bacou is on top of her game. Director of La Maison London, she has some impressive projects under its belt. Ilse Crawford commissioned the studio to fit out all of the bedrooms inside the iconic Babington House as well as Soho House New York. Compliment to the studio being able to sensitively answer just about any brief, the furniture designer and her team were tasked to furnish the rooms inside The Crazy Bear Hotel in Beaconsfield and add sensitive drama inside The Reading Rooms in Margate. And if that wasn’t enough, Bacou’s bespoke furniture pieces helped ‘set the scene’ recently in the popular Netflix feature film, Rebecca.

As impressive as these projects are, it was her bespoke – and slightly unusual – four-poster, double bunk bed that the studio designed and made for Serangoon House in Singapore that really captured my attention. The client, Satinder Garcha, the CEO of Garcha Hotels, was inspired by images of a Louis XVI-style bunkbed, which the studio had designed for its Made In House range. “He explained that, from the basis of what he’d seen, he’d like to have a four-poster bed made which could also function as a freestanding bunkbed and which could take a large mattress size,” Bacou explains. “This bed would be for his new hotel opening in Singapore with the idea that it could both accommodate numbers of up to four, when large families were travelling  together etc, and could also present itself as an elegant four poster bed for when a room was being booked for one or two people.”

To mark the start of Hotel Designs putting the spotlight on ‘beds’ this month, here is my exclusive interview with Bacou, in which I learn how the designer’s ambition – not to mention her endearing inability to say no to clients – led her to complete one of her most unusual projects.

Hamish Kilburn: What were your first thoughts when you were were approached by The Garcha Group with this brief?

Louise Sawyer Bacou: ‘Inventive’ was my first thought; ‘complex to achieve’ my second; followed by a slow-motion moment while I tried to calculate all the numerous technical considerations a bed like this would require.

HK: And how did this project stretch your limits as a furniture designer?

LSB: The challenge was extended further when the bed that Garcha chose from our range, to style the new design from, was the ‘Cherub Bed’– a symphony of Rococo S curves without any of the obvious straight lines that might easily lend themselves to a two-tier structure.

Luckily though, I like a challenge and so bolstered by Garcha enthusiasm to have the idea realised, I set about to use all the tools at my disposal to make this work. Satinder is definitely a visionary which this good for design, as this type of person will always re-write the rules to have something new created.

HK: Culturally speaking, how was this brief different to any other that you have faced before?

LSB: Working in culturally diverse places, like London or Singapore, will always induce a creative, cross pollination of ideas – it’s something I’ve always been attracted to, so working on this project has allowed me to explore a fusion of ideas from two continents which I’ve loved.

There are times when what we do at La Maison London is quite purist, stylistically and technically – we use old-school methods and knowledge to achieve furniture that has an authentic language but when these same tools are used to push the envelope, it’s exciting to create designs that hold some of the old intrinsic values but are also reimagined as part of a new story.

HK: What were the main challenges you were confronted with during this project?

LSB: The first challenge was how to marry the aesthetic of a four-poster bed with the functionality of a bunk bed when each would usually work from quite different height perspectives. I had to find a balance between the two by using the lines of the bed to allow both scenarios to work, while taking into account the ergonomics of its use as a bunk bed. I may have made that sound simple but it took time.

Another challenge was that the style of the bed, to be Rococo, as it had no obvious lines that presented themselves for the columns. I created these columns to work aesthetically but also to allow them to have the best inherent strength for the bed, structurally, as a freestanding piece. These columns have also been reinforced with internal metal rods (for good measure) which run the length of the bed offering extra stability.

The challenge is always to find the harmony between form and function so that each aspect is enhanced by the other.

“I would like to use the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years to create more re-envisioned pieces.” – Louise Sawyer Bacou, Director, La Maison London.

Side image of the four-poster double bed

Image credit: Mel Yates

HK: Is there any furniture challenge you cannot solve?

LSB: I’m going to say no because I like design challenges. Going forward, I would like to use the skills and knowledge I’ve acquired over the years to create more re-envisioned pieces.

HK: With such a statement bed, how did you then confront the rest of the interior design?

LSB: The bed is the statement piece that holds the conversation in each room. I’ve chosen furniture, fabrics and palette that support the bed’s leading role and adjusted the story within the varying bedroom sizes.

The larger rooms lend themselves to a more opulent feel that the space allows, for the smaller rooms we’ve curated for a balanced feel. The furniture chosen for each room is beautifully crafted and finished to compliment the over all bespoke look we are aiming for.

Colour always has its own story and is linked to the tonality of light within any region so, for this project in Singapore and especially for the fabrics, I’ve used a palette of bejewelled colours to accent which has been a joy to work with.

HK: What was the most valuable lesson you learned during this project?

LSB: There have been many valuable lessons on this project – which is still a work in progress as the photos seen here show the prototype which has been just made for the mock up rooms. I think the biggest lesson came about, not least, because of the period we find ourselves in, globally.

There have been times when the metaphoric tides (and actual tide – read Suez Canal) seemed to work against the usual flows of production which depends on the smooth interactions across multiple borders (for all of us). Unusual situations came from many angles but I was amazed that everyone involved – from the team in Singapore, to the teams of craftspeople we’ve work since years, to teams in logistics – all worked, at every step of the way, to problem solve, to find ways through with a ‘can do’ attitude. This is something I will take with me: The ingenuity of people to create better outcomes in all outcomes.

Main image credit: Mel Yates

Weekly digest: Ace moves into Brooklyn & a Royal welcome in Crete

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Ace moves into Brooklyn & a Royal welcome in Crete

Editor Hamish Kilburn here rounding off your week (and month) with a digest of the hottest stories from the last few days. Before we start, first, a checklist: Have you applied yet for The Brit List Awards? Have you signed up to attend Hotel Designs LIVE. If not, hurry, as you only have a few days left to do so…

Quite frankly, July couldn’t have come soon enough! Following an unjust – and extended – sin bin, the hospitality industry is finally able to return to the arena in order to showcase the true value of an industry that is held together by people, relationships and boundary-defying innovation. Our celebration of these hero players comes in the form of The Brit List Awards, Hotel Designs’ annual awards ceremony – free to apply/nominate for – that’s aim is to credit the individuals who are taking design and hospitality to new heights. Therefore, I urge you (even if you are in doubt) to submit your free entry, before August 6, to this year’s awards – you literally have nothing to lose. Don’t forget, this year we have introduced two new awards: International Award and The Rising Star – even more reasons to get involved…

In the meantime, the editorial team are putting the finishing touches on preparations ahead of our next Hotel Designs LIVE event. If The Brit List Awards are about celebrating the heroes, then Hotel Designs LIVE’s role is to bring the industry’s finest together to keep the conversation flowing  by discussing key issues in global hotel design and hospitality. With limited spaces available, time is running out to attend in the audience.

Other than keeping these two vital dates and events front-of-mind, we have spent this week exploring some milestone projects, writing about new products and we even found time to publish our latest virtual roundtable, which explores the heavily discussed topic of injecting personality into the bathroom. Here are our top stories of the week…

In pictures: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Following the highly anticipated opening The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by HiltonHotel Designs gets its hands on the official images, which highlight the design scheme that aimed to celebrate the “timelessness of the Cretan soul in a contemporary way”.

Read more.

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

Our latest virtual roundtable, in association with Bathroom Brands Group, comes following Hotel Designs LIVE in May where we hosted the panel discussion entitled: ‘Bathrooms beyond practical spaces’. Extending what we learned at the event, we invite a handful of designers to explore how to inject colour and personality into the bathroom…

Read more.

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

From the brand who shook up conventional public areas and encouraged the rest of the hospitality industry to open their doors to the community as well as travellers, Ace Hotels has officially arrived in Brooklyn. Located in Downtown Brooklyn, the hotel stands on the cusp of Boerum Hill, above the ever-evolving intersection of everything: a geographical Venn diagram of intersecting energies, from the tree-lined streets and brownstones of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the art and culture clusters of Fort Greene, and all the way down to the restless East River.

Read more.

Design London to make its London Design Festival debut in September

Design London

Anticipation is building around the reopening of events and Design London is among the shows that are gearing up to showcase the best in design. The show will welcome the architecture and design community to the capital’s new favourite neighbourhood, North Greenwich, for its inaugural event.

Read more. 

Bathroom trends: Black accessories for a touch of luxury

Bathroom black accessories

When crafting a bathroom it’s the finishing touches that often bring everything together and complete the look; be it elegance and glamour or a sophisticated urban edge. The new Black Selection of accessories from KEUCO with its deep black silk matt finish brings a touch of luxury to every element in the collection.

Read more.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Now open: Inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Following our cheeky sneak peek inside the hotel that was published earlier this year, Ace Hotel Brooklyn is open – with interior design by Roman and Williams , and architecture from Stonehill Taylor

From the brand who shook up conventional public areas and encouraged the rest of the hospitality industry to open their doors to the community as well as travellers, Ace Hotels has officially arrived in Brooklyn.

Collage of interior images of inside the Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Located in Downtown Brooklyn, the hotel stands on the cusp of Boerum Hill, above the ever-evolving intersection of everything: a geographical Venn diagram of intersecting energies, from the tree-lined streets and brownstones of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to the art and culture clusters of Fort Greene, and all the way down to the restless East River. The property offers 287 guestrooms, an expansive in-room art programme, a public lobby with multiple bars and an art gallery, plus additional food and beverage outlets on the horizon. Designed by Roman and Williams, with architecture by Stonehill Taylor, Ace Brooklyn’s unique facade welds seamlessly with interiors inspired by the raw artist studio spaces of the European modernists — with soothing and stylish custom furnishings outfitting its every alcove.

> Since you’re here, why not read a roundtable on the new era of lifestyle hospitality, featuring Stonehill Taylor’s Sara Duffy?

“We see Brooklyn as it’s own city, filled with so much hope, possibility and excitement for the future,” said Brad Wilson, President, Ace Hotel Group. Ace Brooklyn has been a labour of love — a gorgeous building in many ways a reunion and a reinvention, and one we’re delighted to share with our guests and neighbours as the evolution of Ace Hotel. We’re proud to have filled its spaces with the talents of many collaborators across art, design and culture; it’s a testament and tribute to the irrepressible creative energy of the borough, and a firm investment in its future.”

Made up of metal, glass and precast concrete elements, the building’s rough-edged façade celebrates the natural beauty of its materials, along with the rugged handiwork of the builders who brought them together. The facade’s dramatic centrepiece is a custom ceramic mural crafted by iconic modernist Stan Bitters, coupled with a sculptural light installation designed by Roman and Williams in homage to the Hotel Okura in Tokyo — a beacon of modernist hospitality designed by Yoshiro Taniguchi, which was sadly demolished in 2015.

Inside, interiors marry exposed concrete with other naturally textural elements — surfaces of douglas fir, oak, plywoods and leathers — to form organic, open shapes throughout. The lobby features vintage and custom seating throughout, with half moon windows illuminating the lobby bar in natural light. The bar is finished with an original wall sculpture from RW Guild artist Verdan Jakšić, and a discreet, large scale drawing by Tara Geer.

“After seven years, we are proud to unveil one of our most comprehensive architectural and interior commissions to date for Ace Hotel Brooklyn, our third collaboration with Ace Hotel,” added Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, Founders and Principals, Roman and Williams. “We aimed to embrace a solid muscular design vocabulary, employing confident lasting construction methods and materials, ones with gravity and strength. A primitive modernist philosophy guided us, it is expressed in the tactile spirit of the design. From the building’s strong and unadorned facade, to the celebration of raw old growth timber in the public screens, to the honest plywood furniture collection in the bedrooms, we aspire to be as energetic and untamed as Brooklyn itself.” 

Drawing significant inspiration from Le Corbusier’s beloved workspace retreat Le Cabanon, the guest rooms at Ace Hotel Brooklyn were imagined as cabins of creative refuge: elegant and efficient, with the kind of breathing room that stirs up all sorts of possibilities. The furnishings are handcrafted from raw, understated materials — including custom sofas and chairs, classically-loomed cotton bedding and purpose-built, minimalist fixtures. Custom bed covers were crafted by Maine Heritage Weavers; bath products are from uka; in select rooms, acoustic guitars are provided by D’Angelico Guitars; turntables are made by Music Hall, with vinyl record selections courtesy of our friends at Rough Trade. Ace Brooklyn’s in-room art programme was curated by artist Niki Tsukamoto, and brings together a dream-woven assortment of original textile and fibre pieces from roughly two dozen artists, many based in the borough.

Guestroom inside Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Throughout the rest of 2021, The Gallery at Ace Hotel Brooklyn will showcase works by artists featured in the guestrooms, starting with a show of textile works by Cynthia Alberto and Weaving Hand in July and August 2021. The hotel lobby’s Ace Shop will also be featuring custom home goods and jewellery from a number of the artists on an ongoing basis.

Main image credit: Ace Hotel Brooklyn

Roundtable - colour and personality

Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Virtual roundtable: Colour & personality in the bathroom

Our latest virtual roundtable, in association with Bathroom Brands Group, comes following Hotel Designs LIVE in May where we hosted the panel discussion entitled: ‘Bathrooms beyond practical spaces’. Extending what we learned at the event, Editor Hamish Kilburn invites a handful of designers to explore how to inject colour and personality into the bathroom…

Roundtable - colour and personality

Gone now are the days of bathrooms being used solely as practical spaces. When colour, pattern and material trends spilled over in the ’70s, the bathroom became an experiential area where designers could rip up the rule book to reflect personality. With the demand for experience-driven travel and the addition in recent years of wellness and wellbeing being top of modern travellers’ agendas – not to mention technology evolving at a rapid rate – the options designers can now use in the bathroom is phenomenal.

To see how far we can take colour and personality in the bathroom, we invited leading designers from multiple brands and studios to help us explore how we can meaningfully add a bit of flair in these once-forgotten spaces.

On the panel:

Hamish Kilburn: Traditionally, why did colour not play a large a role in the bathrooms? 

Fiona Thompson: In the luxury hotel sector, the simple answer is that we were reflecting what had been done previously – so it was more a nod back to the heritage of the projects, which were usually sheltered in historic buildings. In terms of sanitaryware, there was a big change in the 70s from using colour to then only using white. And that’s probably because white represents cleanliness. However, in more trendy brands we are seeing colour being injected back into the bathrooms, but it is a big step for more luxury hotels.

The bathroom is the last thing that gets stripped out of a hotel, so anything we do has to stand the test of time.

“I have seen a shift toward a more experience-led design when it comes to bathrooms in hotels” – Diana Darmina, Interior Design Manager, Lamington Group.

Akram Fahmi: I would say there has been a shift over the last 10 years of moving to blacks, dark bronzes for accent colour in the bathroom. But I think sanitaryware companies have been widening their colour ranges as styles and fashion has also moved on. I think black is here to stay; it’s now staple and consumers accept it’s a stylish option, but colour, bold colours, pastels are having a renaissance. We have been devoid of fun for almost two years, staring at our own bathrooms at home thinking, ‘I want something to lift me in the morning, perk me, surprise me continually’. I think colour has that ability to affect your mood. Bold yellows give you warmth and comfort, red is energetic and bold, green is calming and fresh. All these amazing feelings from colour, and designers need to be braver when it comes to utilising it in powder rooms and bathrooms. In fact, I think bathrooms are the perfect place to be a little quirky or offbeat. The bathroom is the most informal space in a house or hotel. It’s ultimately the space you need to feel comfortable without clothes on – and if you can’t have fun without clothes on, when can you!

Diana Darmina: Working in the hotel industry, I have seen a shift toward a more experience-led design when it comes to bathrooms in hotels. At room2 we always push for our bathrooms to be playful and energising in their look and feel. We always push for our bathrooms to be remembered as a place which guests love, but would probably not have the courage to do in their own homes.

Black and pink bathroom with brassware

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

Nick Hickson: Some brands are very prescriptive when it comes to brand standards and certainly with the sanitary ware being white. So, it’s tough to have conversations about injecting colour in. You could suggest minor changes, such as the shower tray being made from Quartz Stone or designing the space with tile surfaces.

Meanwhile, there are new brands entering that want to define new categories. Those lifestyle brands don’t want white or to feel corporate. Instead, they are reaching out for something more experiential – something coloured or made from other materials than simply white porcelain.

David Balmer: Also, with hygiene being such a big focus point, there is still that need and demand for the perception of cleanliness. So, what we are seeing is that colour is being used on the outside of ceramics and not on the inside to maintain that.

“Traditionally, we were concerned and timid to use coloured brassware because of the cost and quality.” – Paul Savage, Design Director, IA Architects.

Modern bathroom with colour and personality

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

HK: Crosswater, from a brand’s perspective, would you say those lifestyle brands have allowed you to inject colour in your products?

DB: Without a doubt. If you look at the new versions of the basins with the tinted brass or gold on the outside of the bowl you will see we are able to add more personality in our products thanks to the demand.

Paul Savage: From my previous experience of working with one of the large American operators, there was no colour in the bathrooms. If we take the high-luxury brands as an example, they want to achieve a classy look, and they are also protecting the owner’s investment. So typically we would expect a hard refurb of a bathroom every 14 years. Traditionally, we were concerned and timid to use coloured brassware because of the cost and quality. We would say that housekeeping would do the most damage to the rooms because of some of the strong cleaning solutions they use. Now that the quality has improved and the cost has come down I think we will see more of it.

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

Image credit: Bathrooms Brands Group

HK: Were you wanting to inject more colour into your projects before you were able to do so because of the delay in the supply catching up to the demand?

PS: I think with how popular lifestyle brands are, I think it’s a really good opportunity to make a bathroom really unique. I really do think the development of lifestyle hotels – and the expansion of that sector – is allowing the industry as a whole to think more creatively when it comes to the bathroom. You can still sensitively add colour to these bathroom spaces to more classic hotel bathrooms but there are less opportunities.

FT: Also, the perception of a bathroom in a luxury hotel was traditionally marble or stone or granite. That has changed substantially – and now there are so many other materials for designers to choose from that still give the perception of high-end luxury. The traditional mindset has changed quite a lot.

NH: Nowadays, we would design the room, selecting from a vast range of surfaces and materials before we specify the bathroom products in order for the space just to feel as considered as other areas of the hotel.

“You don’t have to be clinical to be clean.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: With Covid-19 being the elephant in the room, do you think the new demands will put a halt in how much colour will be put into the bathrooms?

FT: I think everyone just wants to move on. You don’t have to be clinical to be clean.

HK: As designers, selecting colours and tones that match is very important. Do you ever find this difficult in the bathroom?

NH: Sometimes. So, at the moment, matt black is a very popular bathroom finish for taps and even basins. I have in the past struggled to find hinges of doors that match in, but generally the result is very impressive when you use contrasts in the bathroom.

“We are not against the idea of taking out the basin outside the bathroom in order to open up the space and create more of a language between the bathroom and the bedroom.” – Nick Hickson, Co-Founder, THDP.

Image of modern bathroom

Image credit: Bathroom Brands Group

HK: How else, other than using colour, can we inject personality into bathrooms?

FT: Bathrooms are becoming quite focal key points in the design of a guestroom because they are the differentiator. I think using and exploring patterns and textures are therefore great ways to hep these areas stand out. People are becoming more playful, I have noticed, especially in hotels where the bathtub is removed from the bathroom in order to open up space.

NH: And even the basin, we are not against the idea of taking out the basin outside the bathroom in order to open up the space and create more of a language between the bathroom and the bedroom.

PS:  There has been a massive renaissance in materials such as terrazzo in the last few years, so that’s a really good opportunity to bring in colour. Also, we are seeing that wallpaper is becoming a popular option in bathrooms for a feature wall. So, people are certainly getting bolder. The only thing I would tend to avoid is lighting that changes skin tone, because these areas are spaces where people go to groom and get ready. The other easy way to tell the design narrative is through artwork.

HK: Nick, you joined us for HD Live where we explored bathrooms beyond practical spaces. What would you say were the key takeaways in that discussion? 

NH: One of the biggest things for me was being able to sit down with other designers (both seniors and juniors) to discuss key topics. We had a designer from Marcel Wanders Studio and Zaha Hadid Architects – and just understanding how others think about this topic. The other conversation we had, which I have been asked about since then, was materiality in bathrooms – I think we can afford to be a bit more adventurous these days.

HK: What would you say is really exciting you at the moment when specifying bathroom projects?

FT: I think it’s beyond look and feel and now it’s really about guest experience. The world has moved from wanting just a good thermostatic shower and a good toilet. I think now there are more products out there to help us create more of an immersive experience. With that in mind, the vast array of materials out there is very exciting! There’s certainly a demand to understand more about where materials come from.

NH: There are so many new products out there that are pushing the envelope. In-house designers are also pushing us to be more creative when reacting to a brief. I’m also loving the fact that broken-up mosaics are being used in bathroom design schemes, which I think is very interesting.

PS: The biggest difference for me, in recent years, is now the accessibility to coloured brassware – before you just couldn’t afford it in the budget! Also, the improvement to finishes and coating. Developers and investors don’t like taking risks – they need to know that the products are going to stand the test of time. So, we have really enjoyed being able to use these materials. The trends go full circle – next thing you know, chrome will be back in fashion!

Tom Lowry: Yes, and it’s important for brands like Bathrooms Brands Group to ensure that we focus on long-lasting trends. I have certainly seen an appetite for earthy colours and materials that have texture – as opposed to just looking at colour.

HK: I think the Bespoke Collection by Burlington is a fantastic example of this  – and actually it was this collection, followed by the Riviera Collection, that allowed me to really see how the bathroom can absolutely become the ‘hero shot’ for a hotel. What are your thoughts?

PS: I think guests are much more sophisticated – and exposed via social media to high-end design. I think they expect this design being carried through to the bathrooms.

NH: Being conventional is now unforgivable on the hotel scene – we are constantly thinking, as designers, how we can push a projects design narrative.

HK: For many, it’s easy to see colour injected in bathrooms sheltered under lifestyle brands. How can colour be sensitively injected in more luxury hotels?

FT: Whether it’s colour or texture, it’s about giving the space personality – and injecting sense of place. So, it becomes about using locally sourced materials. We did a project in Las Vegas where the bathroom was bigger than the rooms, so we used lots of back-painted glass to make it an extraordinary space. It is about doing things that are appropriate for the local location and culture. The bathroom now is quite often half the size of the bedroom, so it has to be a signature piece, if you like, but also keep it cohesive to the rest of the room.

“Layering colour, tone, accent in the choices of FF&E, accessories, artwork, make bold choices in the colour of joinery, doors and of course powder rooms!” – Akram Fahmi, Co-Founder, London Design House.

AF: I think it’s a very good question, colour is sometimes seen as cheap or tacky, but I totally disagree. Many modern luxury hotels have this element of seriousness, elegant and sophisticated tonality – we are all guilty of it at some point in our careers, and yes, that tonality and “properness” is expected and often pushed by the hotel operator and guest expectations, and yes it might look beautiful, but is it fun? No. Is it quirky? Not really. So how do you bring interest, surprise, moments of emotion into a the luxury environment, and I think the answer is layering. Layering colour, tone, accent in the choices of FF&E, accessories, artwork, make bold choices in the colour of joinery, doors and of course powder rooms! Colour has been slowly washed out of hospitality over the years, if you look back historically at hotels like the Savoy, the bold greens, or the Dorchester ballroom in the 1930s was full of pinks, blues and golds. These spaces historically had colour and we need to get back to celebrating these spaces again and have fun rather than align to a pretence that sophistication is black and white or grey. 

HK: We’ve spoken in depth about guestroom bathrooms, but what about public bathrooms – can we afford to throw out the rule book in these spaces? 

FT: I think public bathrooms can be much more playful – I like to see a bit of reverence in these areas!

PS: I agree, a bit of humour doesn’t go a miss. You really can, to a degree, judge a restaurant’s design on their bathrooms. If they are not an afterthought, if they have been considered then it’s a great opportunity to do something different.

HK: And finally, how can designers working on a tight budget still add personality into the bathroom?

PS: Accenting. The price of coloured brassware has come down so it’s easier to include these in a project – and opens design opportunities. Another way is to add colour on the outside of basins, and also paint on the wall – a half height tiled wall and paint is an easy way make these spaces a bit more characterful.

NH: And don’t be afraid to paint the ceilings too.

AF: I think that white is always an easy ‘go to’ in terms of making a space feel larger or brighter naturally. However, there are many tricks one can use to give that feeling of space, whether it be to give the feeling of height, or making a space feel brighter. Use of colour is very clever tool, highlighting door architraves and skirtings for instance in an accent colour can give a feeling of height as your eye is physically drawn up and down.

Bathrooms Brands Group is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

In pictures: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
In pictures: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Following the highly anticipated opening The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton, Hotel Designs gets its hands on the official images, which highlight the design scheme that aimed to celebrate the “timelessness of the Cretan soul in a contemporary way”. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores…

A private outdoor bathroom and sunbeds overlooking sea

Situated on a serene, undisturbed coast outside the picturesque village of Panormos, a brand-new haven awaits the modern nomad. Combining Crete’s rich heritage with exceptional experiences of the here and now, the Royal Senses is the latest chapter in lifestyle hospitality from the Troulis Royal Collection.

Positioned right next to its sister property, the recently renovated seafront Royal Blue with its 100-acre premises, the Royal Senses makes its mission to go above and beyond that of a typical luxury family resort. As a true ambassador of Crete’s rugged beauty, the Royal Senses is deeply intertwined with the landscape of the island and the character of its people, while still maintaining a cosmopolitan aura.

Villas and guestrooms at the Crete hotel

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Built with togetherness as a guiding principle, the resort’s 179 suites and villas connect seamlessly with their natural surroundings. Accommodations range from spacious 35-square-metre rooms, where undisturbed sea views and natural furnishing materials bring to mind a private cove, to ultra-luxurious 200-square-meter villas with amenities such as private infinity pools organically carved from the rock that surrounds the island. Ever present is the element of water: the four large communal pools and the 74 private infinity pools lined with elegant sun loungers and cabanas seem to cascade from level to level, creating a sense of motion that stirs the soul of the traveller.

For Zacharias, Kostas and Manolis Troulis, co-owners of the Troulis Royal Collection, this project showcases their lifelong dedication to Crete. “We are fully committed to our responsibility to the island, its people and our cultural heritage,” they said. “We wish to show guests all sides of the Cretan identity and embed ourselves purposefully into the texture of the island.”

The celebration of Cretan roots has been the main driving force behind the resort’s overall architectural and design approach. “The landscape’s rough beauty creates a wonderful juxtaposition with the clean, minimal lines of the buildings,” said Nikos Peppas and Katerina Tsiolaki, of Peppas N Architects, when describing the project. “We designed and positioned all buildings in such way that ensured unobstructed views to the endless blue of the Aegean Sea, wherever you are.”

The interior design project was awarded to Constantina Tsoutsikou while she was Creative Director at Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) London. Following her departure from HBA, Tsoutsikou became the founder and creative director of the new London-based high-concept practice, Studio Lost. Her task, outlined in the original brief, was to showcase the owners’ genuine commitment to local authenticity in a modern way.

Since you’re here, why not listen to our podcast episode with Constantina Tsoutsikou?

“We wanted to create a destination that benefits local communities,” explained Tsoutsikou, who briefed local artisans in their workshops and on-site. “I found a wealth of excellent craftsmanship and local techniques that informed the design as we went along. We created handcrafted bespoke furniture, repurposed items, objects and artwork that celebrate the artisanal skills of the islanders throughout.”

Pastel colour scheme in luxury hotel guestroom

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

The rooms and suites, all flowing towards their outdoor terrace, are built to remind the contemporary globetrotter exactly where they are — with framed views of the Cretan sea setting the tone. Earthy and textural, every guest room features carpentry and furniture from highly skilled local third-generation craftsmen (many of whom make their living by building traditional fishing boats), while furnishings, such as the cushions, are entirely made by hand in traditional motifs from the local women weavers association. The walls, treated with softly textured paint and cornices, are subtly marked out with traditional Cretan patterning, whereas the juxtaposition of rough and smooth surfaces mirrors the untamed character of the island itself.

All rooms maximise the time spent outdoors celebrating views and private pools, while the dark metal finishes and details such as leather wrapped door handles add an extra layer of depth in the overall look and feel. The open, boundless, layout connects the indoors with the outdoors and invites guests to enjoy these generous, calm spaces in their entirety.

At the Royal Senses, the traveller is called to connect with a community of kindred souls and experience a renewed sense of ancient mindfulness. This sense of community is highlighted by the fact that guests can seamlessly traverse across both resorts. Experienced in tandem, the Royal Blue’s private beach and marina and the iconic hilltop views of the Royal Senses set the tone for a holistic exploration that goes beyond the beaten path. Here, Crete’s multifaceted culture and ceaseless joie de vivre can be taken in at one’s leisure.

Sunbeds overlooking pristine sea

Image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

As celebrating locality is of the utmost importance for the resort, the three restaurants (two of which offer la carte menus) and the various pop-up food bars at the Marketplace honour Crete’s rich culinary tradition in various ways. Along with four bars, these dining locales create the perfect backdrop for precious moments together.

True to the spirit of engagement and togetherness, the resort provides travellers a plethora of distinctive experiences to help them connect with the island and one another. At the farm, visitors can stroll the fragrant hillside, discover a cornucopia of local herbs and harvest their own fruits and vegetables. Guests may also enjoy the resort’s unique Marketplace – a home to curated selections from small-farm producers and local artisans, blending tradition with a contemporary shopping experience.

Last but by no means least, guests can luxuriate at an activity spa offering therapies that exclusively utilise Cretan herbs, as well as a heated pool, leaving them radiating with serenity and relaxation.

Rustic, authentic, joyful and proud, the Royal Senses Hotel & Spa is above all a contemporary interpretation of the Cretan soul.

Main image credit: The Royal Senses Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hotel Designs events not to miss in August

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Hotel Designs events not to miss in August

In just a few days time, Hotel Designs LIVE will return (on August 10) and entries for The Brit List Awards 2021 will close (on August 6). Editor Hamish Kilburn explains how you can attend and apply, free-of-charge, for both…

Following what has been the most stressful 18 months in the hospitality and hotel design industry in living history, Hotel Designs is gearing up for a jam-packed August, which will include the return of Hotel Designs LIVE – the virtual conference for all designers, architects, hoteliers and developers – and the deadline for industry professionals and brands to apply/nominate for The Brit List Awards 2021 is fast-approaching.

The Brit List Awards 2021Click here to apply/nominate free-of-charge (entries close on August 6)

The Brit List Awards is back for another year to identify the leading interiors designers, architects, hoteliers and suppliers operating in Britain. The applications/nominations process is free-of-charge – but hurry because entries close on August 6. After that, entries will be handed over to our expert panel of judges before the winners and the top 25 designers, architects and hoteliers in Britain will be unveiled at the Awards Ceremony on November 3 at PROUD Embankment, London.

Here’s a reminder of this year’s categories:

  • Interior Designer of the Year*
  • Architect of the Year*
  • Hotelier of the Year*
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award
  • Best in British Product Design
  • The Rising Star Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • International Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

*In addition to the individual awards that are up for grabs, the top 25 entries in the interior designarchitecture and hospitality categories will be profiled in the prestigious The Brit List, Hotel Designs’ annual publication that references the top 75 most influential individuals in British design, architecture and hospitality.

You can now purchase your tickets to attend the live awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment (designers, architects, hoteliers & developers, click here. Suppliers, click here).

Hotel Designs LIVE – August 10 | Click here to attend.

Exclusively open to designers, architects, hoteliers and developers, Hotel Designs LIVE was first launched in June 2020 to keep the conversation flowing and the industry connected during the pandemic.

For the fifth chapter of Hotel Designs LIVE, the event will shelter four engaging panel discussions on topics such as sensory design, sleep performance, surface trends and social areas, with world-renowned hotel design experts joining us throughout the day in order to ensure the conversations we start are meaningful and unlike any other.

Here’s a reminder of the agenda for the day:

Click here to read more about the various panel discussions and speakers who will join us at Hotel Designs LIVE. Click here to secure your space in the audience (limited places available).

Weekly digest: Maldives dip, the power of smart design & 3D printing at its best

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Maldives dip, the power of smart design & 3D printing at its best

Well hello there! You’re just in time to catch this week’s rendition of the ‘weekly digest’, which is essentially the only article you need to read in order to keep up to date with all the latest happenings on the hotel design stage. I’m Hamish Kilburn, editor of Hotel Designs, and I’ve done all the hard work/research for you – so sit back and enjoy…

Where do we start? This week we’ve covered news from all angles, including innovative sustainable furniture solutions, not-t0-be-missed exhibitions coming up and we’ve even helped one brand mark its territory on continental European soil. As the summer intensifies – and more and more brands start loosening their lips about their development plans – the editorial team is preparing to go live with yet another Hotel Designs LIVE event (on August 10) and doing everything it can to ensure that no designer, hotelier, architect or brand is unfamiliar with how to apply (free-of-charge) to The Brit List Awards 2021 – entries close on August 6.

But for now, here’s your round-up of all the hottest stories that we have published this week (and why not read this week’s news while listening to our latest episode of DESIGN POD)?

Accor announces the signing of SO/ Maldives

S/O Maldives - accor

Image credit: Accor

Accor, no stranger the pages of Hotel Designs, has just announced the signing of a luxury resort in the Maldives that will boast 80 villas overlooking the emboodhoo lagoon at CROSSROADS Maldives.

Read more. 

How smart hotel design can support guests’ mental health & wellbeing

Abstract architectural concrete, wood and glass interior of a modern villa on the sea with swimming pool and neon lighting. 3D illustration and rendering.

With wellness and wellbeing now higher up on the agenda than it has ever been, Ari Peralta, Founder of Arigami, conducts some research of his own to understand and explore whether or not smart design can be utilised to enhance not only the consumer journey but also the mental health of guests checking in…

Read more.

3D-printed furniture – it’s a thing now!

Collection of 3D-printed chairs

Architect and designer Yasmine Mahmoudieh, following years of studying sustainable design and materials, has designed a piece of 3D-printed furniture with partner Nagami that has been created out of 100 per cent plastic waste…

Read more.

Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

Image credit: Locke

It was only ever going to be a matter of time – and timing – before Locke, the pioneering lifestyle hospitality brand was to launch it’s first hotel in continental Europe. Well, following the brand’s arrival in Dublin, Locke has finally touched down in Europe with a hotel opening in Munich.

Read more.

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

Following the recent unveil of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice’s new rooms and suites, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with the designer who brought the iconic project to life within the heritage building. With sustainability and materiality key focuses of the design ethos and brief, Studio Forino’s Biagio Forino was in his element, staying true to his belief that “you cannot disregard the importance of using environmentally friendly building materials…”

Read more.

Trend alert: Scandi style in the bathroom

Modern scandi bathroom

Image credit: VitrA

Thanks to its unique perspective over the industry – not to mention access to bathroom brand’s premium products – UKBathrooms qualifies in our hearts to give us an accurate trends special on how designers can inject Scandi style in the bathroom…

Read more. 

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Locke hotel in Munich

Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Locke opens first hotel in continental Europe

Lifestyle aparthotel brand Locke unveils first property in continental Europe with the launch of Schwan Locke in the heart of Munich…

It was only ever going to be a matter of time – and timing – before Locke, the pioneering lifestyle hospitality brand was to launch it’s first hotel in continental Europe. Well, following the brand’s arrival in Dublin, Locke has finally touched down in Europe with a hotel opening in Munich.

Locke hotel in Munich

Situated just a few minutes’ walk from the Theresienwiese, the site of Oktoberfest, Schwan Locke features 151 spacious, design-led studio apartments, as well as a complimentary co-working space, gym, coffee shop, retail space, leafy courtyard and craft cocktail bar.

Locke’s innovative home-meets-hotel concept aims to put the guest at the centre of the experience, creating spaces that are designed to be lived in in, not just slept in. This makes each location attractive to a wide range of travellers from the leisure and business markets – for both long-, mid- and short-term stays.

Image credit: Locke

Each of Schwan Locke’s signature studio apartments offer more space than a typical hotel room – featuring fully equipped kitchens, living areas and dining space. Schwan Locke’s premium apartment, the Ludwig Suite, takes this concept a step further; with a six-person dining table and custom cocktail bar, plus an expansive terrace with views of over the city.

Designed by interior architecture firm Fettle, Schwan Locke’s design is inspired by the Deutscher Werkbund, which established itself in Munich in the early 20th century. The Werkbund sought to redefine aesthetic standards by combining traditional crafts and industrial mass production techniques, in the belief that high-quality applied art could improve the nation’s quality of life.

The spaces at Schwan Locke pay homage to these principals rather than a pastiche of this iconic style; housing custom-made furniture as well as a sophisticated, mid-century-inspired colour palette. All the upholstered furniture for Schwan Locke is bespoke and inspired by furniture from the early 20th century. A colourful yet relaxing palette features throughout the social spaces and apartments, including muted reds, greens, yellows and blues that echo the era of the early modernist movement, while maintaining a sense of fun.

Schwan Locke is home to a unique art collection, which draws inspiration from the pioneering women involved in the Werkbund movement – from photographer and sculptor Marianne Brandt to Lilly Reich who was on the board of directors. The collection also champions local talent, featuring vibrant artwork from designer and illustrator Veronika Grenzebach, graffiti artist Armin Kiss-Istok, and illustrator Tomomi Maezawa.

Image credit: Locke

“Schwan Locke marks the first of two Locke openings in Munich and it is a particularly exciting start for all of us. Like other Locke locations in the UK & Ireland, we have gone to great lengths to create a space that is deeply rooted in the neighbourhood – where both locals and visitors can feel at home,” said Eric Jafari, Chief Development Officer & Creative Director, Locke. “Achieving this was a significant creative challenge, but also a unique opportunity. Munich is steeped in a rich and diverse history, while also being home to a unique creative landscape. We wanted to celebrate this – paying homage to the city’s past, but working with disruptive, forward-thinking partners to bring our vision to life.” 

Main image credit: Locke

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Suite dreams: Inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan

Architect Flaviano Capriotti has curated the brand new, two-bedroom Bvlgari Suite inside Bvlgari Hotel Milan, which is complete with a private terraced garden that boast simply stunning views over the vibrant city…

With Bvlgari Hotels planning its portfolio growth, with luxury hotel openings expected in Tokyo, Rome and Miami in the next few years, it would be easy to miss how the brand’s currently opened hotels are ensuring to remain at the height of luxury within their territories.

THe lounge of the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

As well as summer launching the Dom Pérignon Trolley and Picnic by Niko Romito, Bvlgari Hotel Milan has also unveiled a masterpiece suite, curated by architect Flaviano Capriotti.

Expansive and impeccably appointed, with a rooftop private garden of 194 sqm, the new 210 sqm two-bedroom Bvlgari Suite is a peaceful haven of pure, undisturbed luxury. A thoughtful expression of timeless contemporary design, the new suite comprises two bedrooms, a living room and even a private garden with 360-degree views of Milan’s skyline. Additional touches include a library featuring rare art and design books, furniture from Antonio Citterio’s Flexform and Maxalto collections, custom drapes and headboards displaying the Bvlgari eight-point star. 

The Bvlgari Suite master bedroom presents an elegant walk-in closet and a large restroom with a vanity table, steam shower, and a Brera stone 900kg carved bathtub that, due to its size, was set in the suite by crane before installing the room’s windows. Its second bedroom accommodates a king or twin bed option, a walk-in closet, and views of the city from both its bedroom and large bathroom. The Suite spacious living room, defined by its teak finishing and floor to ceiling windows, is furnished as a private residence with a beautiful library and a fireplace that serves both the inside and the outside wrap-around balcony and terrace. The Suite also features a private kitchen alongside a dining area that can accommodate up to eight people.

Bedroom inside the Bvlgari Suite in Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

Upon request, guests at the Bvlgari Suite can experience the latest generation full-length mirror FORME Life and training equipment to work out directly from the privacy and comfort of the Suite. The touch-screen mirror offers the opportunity either to book a virtual training session with Lee Mullins, the founder of Workshop Gymnasium, or to pick from a library of pre- filmed Workshop workouts, the favourite session of yoga, Pilates, bodyweight training, stretching, breathing, and meditation routines.

Luxury bathroom inside the suite at Bvglari Hotel Milan

Image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

And just because it shelters luxury does not mean it’s not sustainable. As part of the hotel’s renovation work, a geothermal system has also been installed to improve the environmental impact and the carbon footprint of the property. It employs heat resources retained in shallow ground to heat or cool the different hotels’ environments and to create hot water that was previously provided by boilers. Using non-polluting renewable energy, the geothermal energy is able to supply what was previously obtained with two plants, significantly reducing the overall consumption of gas and emissions.

Main image credit: Bvlgari Hotels

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
5 minutes with: Interior designer Biagio Forino

Following the recent unveil of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice’s new rooms and suites, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with the designer who brought the iconic project to life within the heritage building. With sustainability and materiality key focuses of the design ethos and brief, Studio Forino’s Biagio Forino was in his element, staying true to his belief that “you cannot disregard the importance of using environmentally friendly building materials…”

Biagio Forino Hilton Venice

Born in Salerno, (Milanese by adoption), Biagio Forino opened his studio in 1987 dedicating himself with passion to his work, in the constant search for beauty and taking care of every detail for an overall result in harmony. “My work is an expression of my way of life,” he says. “The intellectual dimension of research and meticulous design is always accompanied by the realisation aspect in every little one detail, with rigour and technical efficiency, from building practices to the search for works of art, for the transformation of dreams into reality ”

Most recently, the designer was asked to renovate the suites inside Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, which emerged following Hilton’s Travel with Purpose commitment, which states: “By 2030, we [Hilton] are committed to double our investment in social impact and cut our environmental footprint in half through responsible hospitality across our value chain.”

Arial view of Hilton Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Formerly a flour mill factory on the peaceful island of Giudecca, the hotel is a modern Venetian masterpiece steeped in history. The historically listed building has been exquisitely restored with a series of recent refurbishments including sophisticated deluxe rooms and new spacious elegant suites – some offering guests enviable views of picture-perfect Venice.

After arriving at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice by water taxi, guests are spoiled for choice with 379 rooms and suites, one of the largest spas in Venice, an unrivalled conference centre and a collection of bars and restaurants. The new Presidential Suite at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice is the tallest and largest suite in town with private access to the hotel’s popular rooftop pool and bar. Fondly referred to as the First Lady Suite following a visit by Michelle Obama herself, the spacious new Presidential Suite is designed with tranquil blue and silver interiors, large floor-to-ceiling windows allowing natural light to illuminate the delicate Murano glass vases.

“My goal was to ensure that after a day of cultural visits in the most beautiful and unique city in the world, customers feel the desire and pleasure to return to Hilton Molino Stucky Venice to relax.” – Biagio Forino, Founder, Studio Forino.

Hamish Kilburn: What was your biggest challenge designing the new suites and presidential suite?

Biagio Forino: The existing suites were extremely dark and dusty. The furniture was dark wood with black leather headboards and carpeted floors. My biggest challenge was to transform the suites into a light and bright environment using soft colours enriched with touches of brilliant colours.

Dining area inside the presidential suite inside Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Image credit: Hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

HK: Tell us a bit more about the materials you used during this project…

BF: When I entrusted the realisation of my project to the ‘Status Contract’, I made sure that all materials were used with the certifications that guaranteed compliance with the regulations to safeguard ecology. From the use of glues, of woods, to the materials used for the upholstery of the sofas, the mattresses of the beds, the lighting with low energy consumption, the air control systems, etc!

Aside from the original darkness inside the rooms, another challenge was to make the suites as comfortable as possible making sure that the technology was present but integrated and harmonised with the very warm and welcoming yet contemporary style. Among the various materials used, I focused on one in particular for the bedside tables and desks using carbon because I wanted to bring the technology of boats into the furniture since we are in a city of sea also famous for its Moro Di Venezia.

HK: The views from the hotel are incredible! As you have now designed the tallest and newest suite in Venice, do you have a favourite viewpoint of the city from the new suites?

BF: Obviously, from all the Tower Suites the view is very beautiful but certainly my favourite is from the top of the tower which is accessed from the top floor of the Presidential Suite which allows you to see Venice at 360 degrees. It is truly a breathtaking view, a privilege that I wish everyone to be able to give themselves at least once in their life.

View from terrace of Molino Presidential Suite

Image credit: Hilton Molino Stucky Venice


HK: How would you describe your signature design style?  

BF: Elegant, sophisticated and welcoming

HK: How do you hope guests feel when staying in the new suites and presidential suite at Hilton Molino Stucky Venice?

BF: My goal was to ensure that after a day of cultural visits in the most beautiful and unique city in the world, customers feel the desire and pleasure to return to Hilton Molino Stucky Venice to relax and rethink the wonders they enjoyed and experienced.

HK: What projects is Studio Forino working on now/have in the pipeline?

BF: We are working on several projects for private clients and open public space areas. We are transforming two wonderful historic villas, one in Forte Dei Marmi in Tuscany and one in San Michele Di Pagana, not far from Portofino, in two luxury bed and breakfasts equipped with every comfort. In short, Studio Forino is busy!

Main image credit: Studio Forino/Hilton Hotels

Reminder: The Brit List Awards – less than 3 weeks to apply (for free)

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Reminder: The Brit List Awards – less than 3 weeks to apply (for free)

Your chance to submit your free-of-charge entries for The Brit List Awards 2021 is slipping through your fingers – entries close on August 6 (scroll down to read more about this year’s categories and how to apply)…

The Brit List Awards is one of the most prestigious awards campaigns for designers, architects, hoteliers and brands in the UK to be associated with. Each year, Hotel Designs opens up the nominations and the nationwide campaign begins to find the best hotel designers, architects and hospitality professionals.

This year, following last year’s virtual event, The Brit List Awards will climax with a spectacular awards ceremony, which shortlisted finalists will be given a complimentary ticket to attend – but you have to be ‘in it to win it’. “For many reasons, The Brit List Awards has become an event that we at Hotel Designs are extremely proud of,” explains editor Hamish Kilburn who will lead this year’s judging panel. “Not only does it seriously help to raise the profiles of exceptional designers, architects and hoteliers, but it also credits the individuals – whatever their backgrounds – who are ensuring that Britain remains a creative hub of design, architecture and hospitality.”

Entries for The Brit List Awards close on August 6 (it is completely free to apply)

Here’s a reminder of this year’s categories:

  • Interior Designer of the Year*
  • Architect of the Year*
  • Hotelier of the Year*
  • Best in Tech
  • The Eco Award
  • Best in British Product Design
  • The Rising Star Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • International Award (NEW FOR 2021)
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry

*In addition to the individual awards that are up for grabs, the top 25 entries in the interior design, architecture and hospitality categories will be profiled in the prestigious The Brit List, Hotel Designs’ annual publication that references the top 75 most influential individuals in British design, architecture and hospitality.

Below are the faces of last year’s designers, architects and hoteliers who were profiled in The Brit List – all of whom benefited from ample exposure following The Brit List Awards.

The Brit List 2020

The faces above made up The Brit List 2020.

Click here to read about last year’s winners. Click here to read more about this year’s event and timeline. Click here to read our FAQs about The Brit List Awards.

CLICK HERE to submit your free-of-charge application/nomination.

You can now purchase your tickets to attend the live awards ceremony, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment (designers, architects, hoteliers & developers, click here. Suppliers, click here).

If you would like to discuss various sponsorship packages available, please contact Katy Phillips via email, or call 01992 374050.

Main image credit: The Brit List Awards 2021

Geberit bathroom shot

Product watch: Geberit extends bathroom range

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: Geberit extends bathroom range

Geberit, a European leader in bathroom technology and ceramics, has made a number of improvements to its product ranges across its Select and Aspire collections, bringing architects, designers and specifiers an even wider choice for enhanced design flexibility in the washroom…

Geberit bathroom shot

Following an insightful roundtable discussion on tomorrow’s perception of clean, bathroom designer and manufacturer Geberit has added two new colours, Lava Glass and Sand Grey Glass, which are available as both flush plate finishes and options for the front cover of Geberit’s Monolith range of sanitary modules. The Monolith range will also now include an additional two new finishes (Concrete and Stoneware Slate).

In addition to these changes, Geberit has extended its Renova Plan range of bathroom furniture, with two new colourways and a series of product enhancements across the series.

The range is now available in Hickory Light and Hickory furniture colours, in addition to existing White high gloss coated and Lava matt coated.

Image credit: Geberit

An improved slim drawer system on the vanity unit also delivers a 2cm height increase for users, with internal panels also upgraded to match the colour of external panels across all products.

Sarah Hillsdon, Geberit UK Category Manager, said: “These changes to our Geberit Select and Aspire collections enable easier upgrade solutions and bring a series of enhancements to add more choice for customers and clients. We are also delighted to be able to bring in a series of tweaks to improve the products for end users – demonstrating our commitment to continuously develop our bathroom products.”

Geberit is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Geberit

Weekly digest: Seychelles arrival & a review of London’s latest spa

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Seychelles arrival & a review of London’s latest spa

Editor Hamish Kilburn here, checking in with your weekly digest to give you the low-down of some of the hottest stories that we published over the last few days – we’ve had arrivals in the Seychelles and Zimbabwe while also exploring a rather swanky new spa on London’s Park Lane…

July is proving to be a busy month. Not only are there just a few weeks left to apply/nominate (free of charge) for The Brit List Awards 2021, but we are also counting down the days until we broadcast our next Hotel Designs LIVE event – designers, architects, hoteliers and developers can click here to purchase their complimentary tickets. And while we at Hotel Designs are slowly preparing ourselves to move away from virtual and instead start meeting the industry in person once more, there’s a lot happening on the hospitality scene.

Right on cue, here’s our digest of the top stories and features from this week:

REVIEW: Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

45 Park lane collage

I have always wondered how a hotel like 45 Park Lane can differentiate itself from not only its neighbouring sibling but also other luxury hotels in the neighbourhood. After a few years of making my way through the cocktail, wine and steak menu, I have no regret to admit that I had been looking in the complete wrong direction all this time. The answer to how 45 Park Lane can remove itself from the cold-morning shadow of its older sister is in fact situated in what was, until recently, a building being used as offices.

Located on the lower levels of the hotel, and reached via its very own lift (which I haste to add is completely accessible for people of all abilities), the hotel has recently opened a spa, designed by Joubin Manku and developed by Clivedale London, that will simply take your breath away – and transport you worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London.

Read more.

LXR Hotels & Resorts arrives in Seychelles

LXR-Mango-House-Seychelles-King-Premium-Deluxe-Room_HR

Image credit: Hilton Hotels

LXR Hotels & ResortsHilton’s collection of independent luxury properties, has the opening of Mango House Seychelles, a hotel we first teased our readers with in January. The intimate and exclusive island oasis promise “a captivating, yet refined Seychellois experience on southern Mahé’s unspoiled beachfront.”

Read more.

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Have you heard? Independent Hotel Show London, presented by James Hallam, will return to Olympia London on October 4 – 5 2021 – and visitor registration has just opened. The Independent Hotel Show will bring together professionals from across the independent, luxury and boutique hotel sector for the first major industry gathering of 2021.

Read more.

A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

Following Fiona Thompson spectacularly winning at The Brit List Awards 2020, where she virtually walked away with the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry title, Hotel Designs is finally about to present the Principal at Richmond International with her trophy. We joined the designer for lunch and a catch up in their home county, Kent, commonly known as the Garden of England…

Read more.

Sneak peek: Inside Tembo Great Plains in Zimbabwe

Image credit: Great Plains (Tembo Plains Camp)

Great Plains, the iconic eco-tourism company led by wildlife filmmakers and conservationists Beverly and Dereck Joubert, is expected to open Tembo Plains Camp on August 1, 2021, which will become Relais & Châteaux’s debut property in Zimbabwe.

Read more. 

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

Click here to sign up to our newsletter.

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Registration is now open for Independent Hotel Show 2021

Following an unstable period where all live events were down due to the outbreak of Covid-19, The Independent Hotel Show 2021, which Hotel Designs is a proud media partner of, has just announced that registration has opened for the headline event that will take place at Olympia London on October 4 – 5…

The innovation stage at Independent Hotel Show

Have you heard? Independent Hotel Show London, presented by James Hallam, will return to Olympia London on October 4 – 5 2021 – and visitor registration has just opened.

Independent Hotel Show will bring together professionals from across the independent, luxury and boutique hotel sector for the first major industry gathering of 2021.

A carefully curated selection of more than 300 innovative businesses representing the variety and diversity of the hotel sector – including transformational hospitality tech, high end design and unique in-room f&b solutions– will be on hand to discuss their latest products and services.

Elena Attanasio, Event Director for Independent Hotel Show, commented: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our exhibiting companies and partners. It’s clear that the industry can’t wait to come together, meet face to face and do business at the leading event for the UK independent hotel market.”

The 9th edition of the show will see the return of the Innovation Stage, in partnership with eviivo and dressed by sofa.com, where hoteliers and hospitality leaders (including our very own editor Hamish Kilburn) will discuss all the trends and issues most relevant to the 2021 industry, from rebuilding the urban hotel market to destination gastronomy to navigating the return of the corporate traveller.

The Social Business Space will once again provide a hub for the industry to meet with peers and discuss best practice, while new addition The Tech Solutions Bar in partnership with HOSPA will enable hoteliers to seek out expert, objective advice on solving their technology pain points. Guests at the show will also be able to network and relax in expanded feature area, The Lobby presented by IH Connects.

After an incredibly difficult year for the hotel and hospitality sector, the Independent Hotel Show Awards will once again be celebrating the winners of the Independent Hotelier Award and the GM of the Future Award, in partnership with The Master Innholders. The award ceremony will also celebrate the winners of The Good Hotel Guide’s Cesar Ritz Award, given to the UK’s 10 best hotels.

Peter Hancock, Chief Executive of Pride of Britain Hotels and Independent Hotel Show Ambassador, commented: “Wild horses could not keep me away from Independent Hotel Show this year, firstly because it’s one of the most informative events our industry has to offer and secondly because I am lucky enough to be involved in the awards presentations on 4 October. Wise hoteliers from all over the UK will be there to learn from their peers and from other industry experts in a stylish and pleasant setting. What’s not to like?”

Serena Von Der Hyde, Partner at Georgian House Hotel and Director at Victorian House Hotel added: “As a hotelier, Independent Hotel Show is the best show for me by far because of all the stands and the different sessions on the stage, I would say that 95 per cent of it is relevant to me, compared to larger shows. I’m also much more likely to bump into colleagues of mine and like-minded people, so for me it’s the best show that I attend.”

To learn more about everything on offer at Independent Hotel Show 2021, and to register for your complimentary pass, visit www.independenthotelshow.co.uk 

Main image credit: Independent Hotel Show London

45 Park lane collage

Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Checking in to experience The Spa at 45 Park Lane

“All this time, I had been looking in the completely wrong direction when trying to understand how 45 Park Lane can stand out from its older sibling – and neighbour – The Dorchester.” Editor Hamish Kilburn is among the first to explore the luxury hotel’s new spa, which shelters a clever biophilic design narrative as well as the largest pool on Park Lane, London…

45 Park lane collage

For any hotel operating in close proximity to a sibling property, the need to do something different is innate. In the case of 45 Park Lane, whose sister (and neighbour) is The Dorchester, which in style as well as service is one of London’s most iconic hotels, standing out is essential. Luckily for 45 Park Lane, though, its 1920s design scheme along with its effortless ability to serve up London’s finest pre-dinner negroni followed by an award-winning steak has kept the property on the map – and as such an integral member of The Dorchester Collection.

With arguably less weight on its shoulders than that of The Dorchester to preserve a deep-rooted legacy, the design scheme inside 45 Park Lane is given space to play. That’s not to say for one minute that it does not feel like a Dorchester Collection hotel, because it very much does with the same attentive service that threads together all properties within the collection. The smaller (in size, not personality) hotel stands up to The Dorchester as a younger, confident and slightly more masculine sibling. The General Manager, John Scanlon, who first joined the hotel in 2015 and who was profiled in The Brit List 2020 as one of Britain’s leading hoteliers, is totally committed to ensuring that guests have the best possible stay experience, immediately upon entry. Scanlon’s hospitable nature is undisputed – I caught him, on several occasions, warmly greeting and seating guests. Aside from his cordial style of leadership, it is his passion for art that is simply refreshing.

As I check in, what would be a conventional check-in experience becomes a conversation between myself and the front desk about who is responsible for the colourful art installation that is on show around the public areas. “The artist is called Nat Bowen,” I am told – and to my delight that Scanlon has just extended her artist residency. Perhaps it’s the times we are living in, or my admiration for hotels with traditional values creating scenes that juxtapose pre-conceptions – more than likely it’s a mixture of both – but as arrival experiences go, 45 Park Lane delivers the goods.

Image caption: The lobby lounge at 45 Park Lane sets the tone for an unparalleled luxury experience. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

Image caption: The lobby lounge at 45 Park Lane sets the tone for an unparalleled luxury experience. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

In just 10 years since it originally opened, the hotel has carved out its own niche, sheltering a members’ club-like interior design scheme that attracts those who want luxury served in more contemporary glassware.

“After a few years of making my way through the cocktail, wine and steak menu, I have no regret to admit that I had been looking in the complete wrong direction before.”

But, despite being a stunning hotel that naturally beats its own rhythm, I can’t help but feel, with just a decade of experience on the London hospitality scene, that it has been wrongly overlooked for more obvious and iconic properties nearby. Well, not anymore.

I have always wondered how a hotel like 45 Park Lane can differentiate itself from not only its neighbouring sibling but also other luxury hotels in the neighbourhood. After a few years of making my way through the cocktail, wine and steak menu, I have no regret to admit that I had been looking in the complete wrong direction all this time. The answer to how 45 Park Lane can remove itself from the cold-morning shadow of its older sister is in fact situated in what was, until recently, a building being used as offices.

Located on the lower levels of the hotel, and reached via its very own lift (which I haste to add is completely accessible for people of all abilities), the hotel has recently opened a spa, designed by Joubin Manku and developed by Clivedale London, that will simply take your breath away – and transport you worlds away from the hustle and bustle of London. “The major challenge was making the spa feel like it is not below ground and a separate destination to the Residences and 45 Park Lane,” explains Steven Blaess Head of Interior Design, Clivedale London.

The Spa at 45 Park Lane

Image caption: The Spa at 45 Park Lane is a botanical dream designed by Joubin Manku. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection.

Its clever design utilises space while allowing guests the pleasure to meander through wellness and wellbeing heaven, where the walls are adorned with hand-placed mosaic tiles to inject a sensitive nod to biophic design and where the length of the pool is (almost) endless, by Park Lane’s standards at least.

But with any underground spa comes the challenge of light. “The intention for the spa spaces was to create a sense of calmness and tranquillity,” says Blaess. “The subtle glistening of light onto the glass mosaics is a reminder of water droplets on foliage. Dappled lighting was dispersed to help create the illusion of walking through a leafy canopy of light.”

I’m told that Manku, when taking on the project, conducted a brief study of other spas in central London and what was missing from all was a sense of nature and connectedness. “These other spas were usually designed with hard architectural materials and more formal in their layout and approach, adds Blaess. The important thing for the spa was to address both the 45 Park Lane guests link and the residences direct access, without making one or the other less important. It was about creating a unique yet somewhat separate experience for both.

“The Spa Lounge, for example, is the hub of the entire level, where people want to naturally either start their journey or end their spa experience, relaxing on over-sized sofas and armchairs set around a central feature fireplace. Visual glimpses onto the swimming pool provide a connection to water while also providing swimmers with privacy.”

The overriding theme and concept developed by Manku was a connection to Hyde Park and therefore bringing into the interiors natural references of leaves, native grasses and wild flowers. “The glass mosaics were conceptualised by Manku to reference a liberty-style, decorative design pattern, that were successfully mass manufactured as part of the Industrial Revolution,” adds Blaess. “The glass mosaics were made in Venice with one of the regions oldest family mosaics manufacturing companies.” Natural feeling timber was also used to reference woodland trees on wall and ceiling slatted panels with leaves, grasses and native wildflowers designed into the glass mosaics.”

Image caption: The hand-placed mosaic tiles are a unique theme throughout the spa areas that inject biophilic design into the space. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

Image caption: The hand-placed mosaic tiles are a unique theme throughout the spa areas that inject biophilic design into the space. | Image credit: The Dorchester Collection

The Spa at 45 Park Lane is undisputedly beautiful, but I would go one step further. The addition of the spa inside the hotel has actually elevated the entire hotel experience for guests checking in. Pre-spa era, the hotel’s rooms and suites were aptly stylish, timeless and complete with their own details (as you would expect from a hotel within the collection). While these areas continue to marry together a voguish collection of art with a distinct 1920s soul that comes through in the interiors, many modern travellers feel as if a luxury experience is not absolute without a destination spa to match. Interestingly, for me, the spa has put more of a focus on wellbeing. As such, even the bathrooms, which always have been beyond perfect – complete with walk-in showers, sumptuously deep baths and hidden TVs in the mirrors, now feel that much more special.

As with all good and meaningful renovations, there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the hotel before. However, the addition of the spa has, I believe, helped keep 45 Park Lane on the radar of luxury travellers by offering an experience unmatched by any other hotel on Park Lane.

Today, as the hotel re-opens up to welcome a new chapter of hospitality – one where the demand for wellness is and will remain off the scale – the existing hotel that shelters timeless decor remains an invigorating blend of art and landmark architecture in the middle of classical London. The spa feeds the demand of luxury travellers, while also cleverly staying true to the Dorchester Collection’s undisputed hospitality style.

Main image credit: The Dorchester Collection

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
A winner’s Q&A: Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International

Following Fiona Thompson spectacularly winning at The Brit List Awards 2020, where she virtually walked away with the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry title, Hotel Designs is finally about to present the Principal at Richmond International with her trophy. Editor Hamish Kilburn joined the designer for lunch and a catch up in their home county, Kent, commonly known as the Garden of England…

Fiona Thompson Richmond International

Admittedly, there was little to celebrate in 2020. For so many, the year is now a blur in history following Covid-19 and the pandemic which followed putting an eraser through any of last year’s social and then plans. The hospitality industry waded through each lockdown and slowly but surely hotels around the globe started to re-emerge – but, even now, travel restrictions are preventing the industry to thrive as it did before.

Despite the year being challenging for the majority of industries, it would be remiss to ignore the heroes in hospitality and hotel design who proved themselves of their leadership skills to put forward meaningful solutions while allowing us, the media, to share their community-centred and selfless initiatives.

The Brit List Awards 2020, which was broadcasted in November 2020 as a virtual event due to the circumstances at the time, aimed to do just that – with The Stock Exchange Hotel in Manchester’s Gary Neville, among other individual award winners, scooping up Hotelier of the Year following its decision to close its doors in order to open them up, free-of-charge, to NHS workers during the peak of the pandemic.

The Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry category, for many reasons, is the most prestigious award of the campaign – past winners include Kit Kemp and Robin Shepherd. It is open to all designers, architects, hoteliers and developers. Last year, the award was presented to Fiona Thompson, Principal of Richmond International, who was, in fact, the first designer I ever interviewed. Richmond International, a studio that Thompson was adamant to remain London, has completed projects such as Sandy Lane in Barbados, Rosewood Miramar Beach, The London West Hollywood and a cluster of Four Seasons and Langham hotels to name but a few. What’s more, I have seen first-hand Thompson supporting and inspiring the next generation of designers, such as Harry Allnatt who was a finalist in our 30-under-30 campaign a few years ago.

Between the award ceremony in November to now, there have been limited opportunities – if any at all – to see Thompson in person in order to celebrate her new title. But just the other day, we found the perfect time, place and weather to meet, allowing us to finally present her with the timeless trophy in recognition of her style and character.

Over lunch, nestled in the quiet countryside of the Garden of England, we caught up to explore diversity in design, getting the industry back on its feet and how much the industry has changed in more than 55 years since Richmond International first launched.

Editor Hamish Kilburn was finally able to award Fiona Thompson her award, seven months after the virtual awards ceremony of The Brit List Awards 2020.

Editor Hamish Kilburn was finally able to award Fiona Thompson her award, seven months after the virtual awards ceremony of The Brit List Awards 2020.

Hamish Kilburn: What have been the biggest changes since you started at Richmond International to now? 

Fiona Thompson: The industry has changed so much since I joined Richmond International as a designer in the early 80s, and then again as a studio director in 1992. In this time, we have seen a huge increase in new hospitality brands popping up around the world, an increase in demand for specialised spaces such as spas, the rise and integration of technology in hospitality settings, and a greater focus on environmental and socially sustainable design, to name a few.

Another key change has been the way that consumers use hospitality spaces and therefore what they demand from them. This was in fact the main driving force behind one of our latest projects, Múzsa at Four Seasons Gresham Palace, Budapest. We were tasked with responding to the changing demands of a hotel lobby and to create an experiential space with an energy that could attract both hotel guests and locals.

With this project, we moved away from traditional lobby design, in favour of creating distinct guest experiences, from sampling local wines in the tasting room to sipping cocktails in the lively, central bar. This not only gives the property its own vibrant identity, but it also helps drive revenue in a space that traditionally people just pass through.

Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International at a Hotel Designs' roundtable in 2019

Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International at a Hotel Designs’ roundtable in 2019

HK: As our winner of the Outstanding Contribution to the Hospitality Industry award, what words of advice do you have for designers struggling at the moment? 

FT: It’s been a tough year for everyone for so many reasons, both professionally and personally, but now it’s time to pull together as an industry so we can bounce back stronger than ever. It’s difficult to see great designers struggling, but with restrictions beginning to ease and life starting to feel slightly more normal again, we’re already seeing positive signs; for the first time in a long time there’s confidence in the market and new projects with fresh investment coming back online.

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

image credit: The Cosmopolitan, designed by Richmond International

HK: What is the secret to success in hotel and hospitality design? 

FT: We’ve been in the hospitality design business for over 55 years, and in that time, we’ve learnt that the key to success is always a great team, which includes clients, operators, consultants and of course designers. Any project in a hotel or a cruise ship is a mammoth task that demands the commitment and efforts of so many different people.  

Image caption: Render of cabin inside P&O vessel, designed by Richmond International

Image caption: Render of cabin inside P&O vessel, designed by Richmond International

The most successful and enjoyable projects are always the ones where every player is pulling in the same direction. It’s important to remember that the initial design is only part of a long process, where ideas constantly evolve, so it’s vital that the entire team is aligned and working towards a clear vision.

In more challenging environments, it’s our job to listen and respond to conflicting points of view, but ultimately be prepared to fight for our designs and see them through to the end.

The plush Sterling Suite at Langham London

Image caption: The Sterling Suite, Langham London

“Surround yourself with design and designers, be observant and open to new things and learn as much as you possibly can from the people around you.” – Fiona Thompson, Principal, Richmond International.

HK: We recently celebrated International Women’s Day at HD. What advice would you give young designers wanting to climb the ladder – and were there any female mentors when you started in the industry? 

FT: At Richmond International, we support and champion all great designers and recognise the importance of mentoring and nurturing young talent. We’re a relatively inclusive industry, that is often less male dominated than the likes of architecture, but it’s still essential we continue to bring talented females into the industry and up the ranks into senior positions.

My biggest piece of advice for any young designer would be that you must love what you do and be passionate about the industry. Surround yourself with design and designers, be observant and open to new things and learn as much as you possibly can from the people around you. Secondly, I would always encourage young designers to be brave, bring your ideas to the table and contribute positively. As designers we would never criticise someone for suggesting an idea, good or bad, it’s all part of the process.

Large and spacious public area of plush suite

Image Caption: Penthouse of London West Hollywood

HK: What lessons have you learned during lockdown? 

FT: A big learning for me is that we can successfully work remotely, especially for aspects of the job like team and client meetings. That being said, the value of face-to-face meetings should not be underestimated or forgotten. When meeting a client in person, there’s an opportunity to build chemistry and trust, and when we’re all in the studio we can bounce ideas around and brainstorm together. There is a real spark that’s created from in-person collaboration, it’s certainly something I can’t wait to get back to.

Without commuting and having to travel to projects, which ordinarily is a huge part of the job, I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my own work/life balance, as well as that of my colleagues. While travel will inevitably return, the balance is something we will be more mindful of as a company moving forwards. 

HK: What other projects are Richmond International working on at the moment? 

Despite the events of the past year, we’ve been extremely busy. The team have worked on lots of exciting new projects, including the renovation of the iconic The Langham, Boston, the refurbishment of Tuscan hotel, Grotta Giusti and the introduction of a new destination spa on site, as well as various spaces onboard the new addition to the P&O fleet, P&O Iona. We will be able to give you more details on these very soon!

HK: If you had the power, what words would you ban people using in the industry? 

I think it would have to be photo sharing social media sites. While they are brilliant for showcasing visuals and discovering new and exciting hotels, restaurants, bars and even designers from all corners of the world, I worry that it can often stifle our creativity and curiosity. For me, great designs are born from team brainstorms and discussions where designs are reviewed and evolved based on new discoveries and changes in approach. After this process, the finished product will not just be aesthetically pleasing and fit the purpose but also completely original, rather than a replica of something that we’ve seen online.

If you would like to take part or nominate someone for The Brit List Awards 2021, you have until August 6 to do so. Once entries close, the shortlisted finalists will be announced in September and the award ceremomny will take place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment, London.

Main image credit: Richmond International

Weekly digest: Another launch for Virgin Hotels & a new London design studio

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Weekly digest: Another launch for Virgin Hotels & a new London design studio

Editor Hamish Kilburn here, tasked to serve up this week’s hotel design headlines – such a Virgin Hotels’ arrival in New Orleans, Hard Rock entering a new territory and a new design studio launching in London – in one juicy shot…

“In a marketing email we sent this week, the marketing team added their own spin on the saying: “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” We felt as though, unless you are driving or it’s a particularly hot day (and even then, gin is always an option), that the industry isn’t that keen on the idea of sipping lemonade in the corner of a room. Instead, and I say this following my attendance at a handful of events recently, we are all reaching for the limoncello after 18 months strictly no socialising.

Answering to the demand of the industry, therefore, we’re tempted to raise the shot glass at The Brit List Awards 2021, which takes place on November 3 at PROUD Embankment. You have until August 6 (less than one month) in order to submit your entries – shortlisted designers, architects and hoteliers will get a complimentary ticket to the awards ceremony.

Between now and then, we on the editorial desk are committed to serve you a variety of flavours of news, features and exclusive insights. Taking the metaphor perhaps too far, this weekly digest is, if you like, the limoncello shot needed to finish off your week.

Here are the top stories from the last few days…

Hard Rock Hotels arrives in Madrid

Render credit: Hard Rock Hotel Madrid

Sheltering all the ingredients to make an exceptional lifestyle hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Madrid marks the brand’s debut property in a Spanish city. Located at the Golden Triangle of Art in the Spanish capital, the hotel is the newest addition to an international portfolio and compliments the brand’s recent growth throughout Europe.

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Exclusive: Meet the designer behind London Design House

London Design House

Image credit: London Design House

You may already know – or know of – Akram Fahmi (former Design Director at 1508 London) and Gary Kellett (former architect at ReardonSmith), but did you know that the two have joined forces to set up and launch their very own studio. In an exclusive interview, we caught up with Fahmi and Kellett to understand more about London Design House…

Read more. 

Virgin Hotels to arrive in New Orleans this summer

Image credit: Virgin Hotels

For any hotel that is owned by a pioneering boss who, in just a few days time, will attempt to make the history books by flying to the edge of spaceto reach a major milestone in his campaign to introduce a commercial spaceflight service, the expectation for an unmatched hospitality experience is huge.

Luckily, the Virgin Hotels New Orleans, which is about to make its bold debut onto the hospitality scene as soon as this summer has been designed with both Virgin’s in-house team and locally based interior designers Logan Killen in order to ensure its interiors hit all the right notes for tomorrow’s modern travellers – think texture and colour, lots of colour! 

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Richmond International unveils new interiors at The Langham, Boston

luxe suite inside Langham Boston

Image credit: Langham Hotels

With a range of dynamic spaces accommodating both guests and day visitors, The Langham, Boston, a landmark hotel, has reclaimed its position as one of the country’s most desirable destinations following the completion of a three-year renovation by design studio Richmond International.

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A new meaning of bathing: The Sky Pool at Embassy Gardens

Sky Pool London

Image credit: Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

The launch of the new headline-grabbing Sky Pool at Embassy Gardens has introduced a new twist to the concept of bathing – and whats more, our Recommended Supplier, bathroom brand Kaldewei, was involved in the development led by Ballymore and EcoWorld Ballymore.

Read more. 

And finally… The Brit List Awards 2021: FAQs (applications/nominations close soon)

The Brit List Awards 2021

Your chance to apply or nominate someone, free of charge, to enter The Brit List Awards 2021 is running out. Ahead of applications/nominations closing on August 6 – and to ensure that you are fully in-the-know about your opportunity to enter and join us at our largest networking event in this year’s calendar, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions…

Read more.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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London Design House

Exclusive: Meet the designers behind London Design House

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Exclusive: Meet the designers behind London Design House

You may already know – or know of – Akram Fahmi (former Design Director at 1508 London) and Gary Kellett (former architect at ReardonSmith), but did you know that the two have joined forces to set up and launch their very own studio. In an exclusive interview, editor Hamish Kilburn caught up with Fahmi and Kellett to understand more about London Design House…

London Design House

If ever there was the right time to do something different, it’s now! Over the last 18 months, during a strange ‘no mans land’ of time when many were twiddling their thumbs on furlough while others were struggling to man the forts (myself included), others were plotting the storyboard of their next chapter.

Before the pandemic, the idea of setting up a new, independent studio was nothing more than a dream for architect Gary Kellett (who has been operating his own studio for three years now) and architect and designer Akram Fahmi. The duo used to work together at ReardonSmith before Fahmi made a leap to become Design Director at 1508 London. In short, pre-2020, both had been used to – and comfortable with – the inner workings of established studio life, benefiting personally and professionally from the brands that sheltered their work. As the cultural shift happened, though, as the world reacted to a deadly virus that forced nations to close their boarders, the concept of having more control and the ownership and responsibility of their own projects and business became more and more appealing.

After a few months of hard planning – and a cluster of sleepless nights later – London Design House was born. To understand the triumphs and challenges that came with setting up the studio – and to understand what’s next – I caught up with the inspirational chaps over breakfast in Shoreditch, London, while lockdown measures were slowly starting to ease and the Capital’s hospitality was starting to open up once more.

Hamish Kilburn: Tell me more about London Design House? What will set it aside from other design studios?

Akram Fhami: Having known each other for 17 years, personally and professionally, there is an innate understanding of how each other works and what each of our complimentary skillsets are. We both hold a keen appreciation of the importance of guiding clients through every stage and mastering the translation of client briefs into fully realised schemes. We are not afraid to admit, our strongest asset is each other, and we are able to interchange and crossover skillsets on any project.

Gary Kellett: Having both been on the wing of an industry leader in our early development as architects the mentorship we received taught us to be flexible and adaptable and whilst still operating at the very highest level of interior design and architecture. 

Our experience and exposure in delivering across all scales and stages at the highest end of interior and architecture is unrivalled. We have the ability to lead designs of luxury hotels and private residences alike with the expertise to also execute these on site which is an ability we both relish and enjoy.

“London is the melting pot into which we have grown.” – Akram Fahmi, Co-Founder, London Design House.

HK: Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the projects you are working on?

AF: Sure! We are working on some really interesting and fascinating projects at the moment, and we haven’t even had time yet to get our headshots done! One project of which is an incredible super prime multi-unit serviced apartments project in Moscow, in close proximity to the National Stadium. We are the executive interior designers working with an internationally recognised architect, delivering luxury concept and technical designs for multiple apartment typologies including the grand rooftop penthouses. We are finding the process very exciting and unique working on such a scheme remotely. The logistics is challenging, but ultimately it is the nature of the industry at the moment, but we are very excited to see it through and eventually travel out to see it realised.

Pavilion Road by Gary Kellett Architects

Image caption: Pavilion Road | Image credit: London Design House

GK: Closer to home we are currently engaged on an extensive refurbishment of a 8,500 sqft, nine bedroom luxury property in the heart of the Chelsea. The period property is set over five floors which will be sensitively reordered and reconfigured to meet the demands of high end residential living. The residence will benefit from a new landscaped roof top terrace which will be provide incredible views across Cadogan Sq.

HK: What have been the major challenges, so far, of setting up your own studio?

GK: Connectivity to People! The largest challenge has been remotely driving business. For us, being adaptable and light on our feet has meant that we are able to take on varying scale of projects, from high end restaurants, private residences to multi-unit luxury apartment developments.

AF: We have found the face-to-face networking and social aspect of our venture to be the most challenging at the moment, yet we see glimmers of this side opening up and people becoming more receptive to meeting again. We have had to learn new ways of revenue generation which ultimately has made us much more savvy in terms of how we approach projects whilst still providing a tailored and non-compromised level of service. 

“I think don’t take life too seriously, or don’t over think things, the opportunities are always there for you take or create.” – Gary Kellett, Co-Founder, London Design House.

HK: Why is London considered a major design hub? 

AF: For us – as in our name – London is the melting pot into which we have grown, developed and now established ourselves. The tantalising blend of people, culture, design influences and art makes the fabric of London incredibly unique. We are able draw on the incredible range of suppliers, artists, crafts people, and consultants to tailor a bespoke composition of materials, elements, people and skills to create unique projects – each beautifully different from the last.

HK: What advice would you give to designers, who, up until now have only worked within large studios but are considering to start a new chapter on their own?

GK: Life is like a bowl of cherries as someone once said to us. I think don’t take life too seriously, or don’t over think things, the opportunities are always there for you take or create. Ultimately, believe and trust in the skill sets you have.

HK: Late nights aside (Akram, I saw you sent me an email at 3am the other day), what’s the best thing about setting up your own studio? 

AF: Oh, wow, sorry about that – to be honest, I didn’t even realise it was that late (or early)! I think having the freedom to operate and design independently twixt with the direct influence and control over the trajectory of business development is incredibly rewarding. It’s quite refreshing to have such an influence on both aspects, it feels like the handbrake has been released and now have the right platform to express ourselves.

Main image credit: London Design House

Perry 18 light staircase

Product watch: New lighting ranges from Franklite

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Product watch: New lighting ranges from Franklite

Having been in and out of the dark over the last 18 months, the hospitality industry deserves illuminating. During the pandemic, lighting studio Franklite has been busy adding new contemporary products to its growing portfolio of lighting products. Let’s take a look…

Perry 18 light staircase

Over the last few months lighting brand Franklite has introduced spectacular new product ranges to its well-renowned decorative lighting collection. Whilst most of these new ranges reflect current trends through innovative and modern designs a more traditional range based on the popular Flemish style design has been included as well.

The Mondrian range which consists of four chandeliers and a wall bracket replicates the ever-popular Delft and Halle ranges. These Flemish style fittings carry through the candle tube design and are finished in pewter as opposed to the bronze and polished brass finishes of the other ranges.

This range includes three and five light chandeliers which are ideal for hotel bars, restaurants and dining areas. Whether it’s a three light chandelier positioned over every table in the restaurant or a five light chandelier perfectly centred above a grand piano, the finish of the Mondrian range adds a slight modern twist to the traditional design style. The two light, candle tube wall bracket within the Mondrian range will accentuate more neutral tone corridors whilst still carrying through the popular Flemish style design within a hotel.

In comparison, the contemporary style of the Perry range is both majestic and comprehensive. With single and multiple drop suspensions in satin nickel finish metalwork and clear cable suspensions this range is like no other. This versatile range comprises four colours of beautiful pear-shaped glasses with a slight textured design. Available in two sizes, these glasses provide a myriad of possible compositions to give the Perry fittings a tailor-made, custom design, perfect for any space. The colour options include clear, smoked, amber and copper glass. The enormous 18 light multiple drop fitting would make an exquisite centre piece in a reception area or staircase. Drawing the eye upwards to take in the full effect of the combination of glass sizes and colours adds dimension, making the most of open plan, communal areas.

Other fittings within the range include three and six light spreaders, three light bar fittings and single pendants all finished in satin nickel. These variations can be used in any space throughout a hotel, mixing and matching the glass colours and sizes to complement many interior design styles, creating continuity throughout the hotel.

In a press release, Franklite said: “[The brand] will continue to produce quality decorative lighting for the hospitality industry over the years to come. Each time ensuring, we never compromise performance for aesthetics or vice versa.”

Franklite is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image caption: Perry 18 light staircase. | Image credit: Franklite

Can plants really help you sleep better?

The power of biophilic design: Hotel creates immersive ‘forest bathing’ experience

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The power of biophilic design: Hotel creates immersive ‘forest bathing’ experience

While we gear up to explore sensory design and sleep performance at Hotel Designs LIVE on August 10, a hotel in Scotland has launched a unique experiment exploring the psychological and physical benefits of biophilic design. Forest bathing has been introduced to Kimpton Blythswood Square after a survey revealed that 65 per cent of adults felt their mood improve when they were close to nature. Editor Hamish Kilburn learns more…

Can plants really help you sleep better?

Connecting people to nature through biophilic design is a concept that dates back to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In a Scottish first, Kimpton Blythswood Square today launched the opening of ‘La Chambre Verte’, an immersive luxury hotel suite experiment that measures the psychological and physical benefits of biophilic design.

Kimpton has partnered with luxury CBD skincare brand La Rue Verte, leading horticulturalists Benholm and award-winning DJ, Brian D’Souza to create a multi-sensory experience combining the theory of biophilia with CBD rituals, meditation and sound therapy.

“It is estimated 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2050, so La Chambre Verte offers a forward-thinking solution to a growing audience of ‘wellbeing tourists’ actively seeking proximity to nature.”

La Chambre Verte installation launches during Mental Health Awareness Week, which in 2021 chooses the theme of ‘nature’, as it became clear in the lockdowns of 2020 that access to green space was vital for maintaining a healthy mind. During lockdown, city dwellers found parks and gardens to bring joy and relief to their mental health[1], while increasingly high numbers of homeowners moved to more rural areas[2], responding to city-centre burnout and a desire in a post-Covid world to live a less polluted life. It is estimated 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by the year 2050, so La Chambre Verte offers a forward-thinking solution to a growing audience of ‘wellbeing tourists’ actively seeking proximity to nature and alternative therapies on their travels to enhance their mental and physical health. 

Designed by plant experts Benholm and partner La Rue Verte (LRV), trailing ivies cascade down the walls of the bedroom, monstera leaves and palm fronds grace every view and eclectic clusters of lush foliage plants breathe life into the space. Echoing the practise of forest bathing, an ancient Japanese process of relaxation, La Chambre Verte encourages guests to unwind in the green space while observing nature’s beauty to feel stress levels reduced, happiness increased and ultimately, enjoy a better night’s sleep. 

“We have created a truly unique health-based experience with Chambre Verte,” said Emma O’Neil, Director and founder of Hashtag Organics, La Rue Verte. “Think of it like a green prescription, I truly believe we have the best natural formula.”

Biophilic design offers physical as well as mental health benefits to interior space[3]; firstly, the use of house plants such as Hedera (ivy)Monstera and Peace Lilies purify the air, removing toxins and pollution. Secondly, the inclusion of plants within the space omit molecular natural chemicals called Phytochemicals, which when inhaled are proven to directly reduce stress and boost the immune system. 

Within the room, guests will be welcomed to a retreat curated by LRV, which includes virtual guided meditation exploring the place of ‘La Rue Verte’, the destination the brand uses to communicate how to live a truly balanced life, the green way. Items usually placed in the hotel room are replaced by a range of LRV 100 per cent pure hemp products, for example an innovative biodegradable hemp yoga mat. CBD vitamin-infused cocktails are available in the mini bar and guests can relax in LRV signature CBD baths, and nourish their body and soul with LRV CBD body oil. 

 Guests can also experience a bespoke nature-based Immersive soundscape within the room created by Open Ear Music. The novel approach combines field recordings of birdsong in Blythswood Square and the surrounding area with sound therapy techniques and relaxing musical compositions from the studio of Scottish Album of the Year 2019 winner Brian d’Souza, (Auntie Flo). A rejuvenating sunrise flow and calming twilight track help trigger the brain into a deep meditative state of relaxation and feeling of euphoria. Guests are invited to take time out to listen deeply and relax in musical escapism.

Finlay Anderson, Spa Director at Kimpton Blythswood Square and Area Spa Director for IHG said: “At Kimpton we believe heartfelt human connections really make a difference to people’s lives and our hotel is so much more than just a wonderful place to sleep. When we opened following the first lockdown in 2020 we noticed a real desire from our guests to return for rest, relaxation and selfcare from the perspective of mental health to our award-winning Spa. Following this, we are delighted to present an alternative therapeutic experience surpassing the usual parameters of an overnight stay which offers guests the opportunity to reconnect with themselves, as well as others post-lockdown. 

“Alongside LRV, we will collect data on the guest experience through a set of questionnaires, assessing the benefits of Biophilia and the Chambre Verte experience in comparison to a standard hotel room environment and look forward to sharing the results and using this experience to continue our development of alternative therapies across the hotel and spa.” 

Hotel Designs will explore the topic of sensory experience at its upcoming Hotel Designs LIVE on August 10. The virtual event is free to attend if you qualify as a designer, architect, hotelier or developer – just click here to secure your seat in the audience.

Main image credit: Kimpton Hotels

Pool inside PrettyLittleThing Hotel

Fashion brand PrettyLittleThing launches UK hotel

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Fashion brand PrettyLittleThing launches UK hotel

While the boundaries between lifestyle and luxury continue to blur – and fashion, design and hospitality collide – it’s not a huge surprise to read that that global fashion brand PrettyLittleThing has entered the UK hotel market. Editor Hamish Kilburn explores more…

Pool inside PrettyLittleThing Hotel

According to a recent press release, demand for staycations this year is up an astonishing 14,400 per cent in the UK, which has led to staycation venues all over the country to sell out this summer. With great demand comes new supply – and PrettyLittleThing has just checked in, taking over a site in the Devon countryside with pink balloons and glamour.

Promising the ‘ultimate’ staycation experience as early as this summer, the brand’s new hotel, will be sheltered in a contemporary barn-like building – think Soho Farmhouse, but less chic and more pink! The hotel will open, we are told, with the aim to rival the ‘Love Island Villa’.

Candy-pink walls aside, in addition to offering something new on the market outside of major cities, the venture will also allow the brand, which is one of the largest fashion brands in the UK, to amplify its brand DNA to its target audience, as Nicki Capstick, Marketing Director at PrettyLittleThing, explains. “The PrettyLittleThing hotel is something we have been excited to launch for a long time, she said. “We’ve carefully curated the decor and homeware from our own range to create the ultimate staycation destination this summer. We’re looking forward to welcoming our first guests and ensure that they have the most incredible getaway after over a year of being unable to travel.”

This latest arrival to the hospitality scene is further evidence that the hospitality industry is heading towards a new era of lifestyle, which is being created to answer new demands from modern travellers. However, what makes this move even more interesting – whether or not it shelters an innovate design approach is irrelevant – is that the brand’s arrival in the UK hotel arena comes as a direct result of the current restrictions on travel, leading to a call for more accessible options on the current hospitality scene.

Only time will tell as to whether or not the hotel will become a permanent fixture once air travel resumes – or for that matter if the brand is preparing to open any other hotels. For now, at least, the fashion brand has thrown personality, colour and experience to hospitality in the UK. Welcome to the party, PrettyLittleThing.

Main image credit: PrettyLittleThing

Laufen New Classic

The New Classic from Laufen: A revolution in bathroom design

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
The New Classic from Laufen: A revolution in bathroom design

Following bathrooms beyond practical spaces being explored in the latest Hotel Designs LIVE, which took place on May 11, we take a look bathroom brand Laufen’s The New Classic, designed by Marcel Wanders, which launched a few years ago as something unique yet timeless for designers wanting to add personality in their wellness areas.

Innovation in the hotel bathroom space has progressed rapidly and one particular area that has seen huge progress is in the materials used to create bathroom ceramics.

Laufen New Classic

SaphirKeramik is one of the latest, globally significant innovations from Swiss manufacturer Laufen. This revolutionary, ceramic material reaches its exceptional hardness blended with corundum, a colourless mineral, which is a component of sapphires. This gives SaphirKeramik a flexural strength equal to that of steel. Yet it has the potential to be wafer-thin, giving designers almost infinite freedom to experiment – and tear up the rulebook of bathroom design.

SaphirKeramik is an innovative ceramic material, which possesses all the hygienic advantages of traditional bathroom ceramics, but is thinner, more defined and extremely robust. Its special properties are down to the addition of corundum, found through years of research and development by Laufen. Since its launch in 2013 SaphirKeramik has become a favourite material of many architects and bathroom planners, as it allows for a new design language with bathroom ceramics, unachievable in the same way with more conventional ceramic material.

Strong and malleable, SaphirKeramik allows the creation of thin, yet 4-5 mm ultra strong walls and tight-edge radii of just 1 to 2mm while retaining the traditional production process. Its slender profile renders it space-saving, lightweight and environmentally friendly.

the-new-classics-marcel-wanders-laufen-vdf-product-fair_dezeen_2364-hero

Image credit: Laufen

The development process

Laufen uses a thinner ceramic body and a simpler structure to reduce the weight compared with conventional ceramic. The benefits are manifold: lower raw material costs and energy consumption in production and transportation.

The result is clear to see – ceramics with thin, almost live edges: living square bowls designed by Andreas Dimitriardis, the graphic lines of the washbasins out in the Kartell by Laufen collection designed by Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, the amazing textures on trays and washbasins in the design series of VAL by Konstantin Grcic and the razor blade sharp shelf of the INO washbasins designed by Toan Nguyen.

Pushing the boundaries of innovation

Laufen continues to stretch the material’s limits by exploiting its super-fine forms not only to create exquisitely detailed textures and patterns but also by engineering the innovative material to increase its maximum size – a 120 cm-long washbasin in SaphirKeramik is the largest to date. The brand also continually innovates by collaborating with established designers to create new collections using the material.

Most recently, Laufen commissioned the Dutch star designer Marcel Wanders to create The New Classic collection, in view of the outstanding reputation he has established worldwide with his extravagant style and innovative use of materials and technology. For Laufen, he had all the credentials required to fashion a new contemporary design language utilising its SaphirKeramik material. The outcome is characterised by soft, gentle feminine curves reminiscent of the opening petals of a flower, alongside angular, masculine elements. In view of the tension generated by this approach, the distinctive presence of The New Classic is regarded as unprecedented in the sanitary ware segment. To allow bathrooms to be fitted out completely with The New Classic, Laufen has assembled a very broad and versatile collection, including stunning washbasin bowls made from SaphirKeramik.

Here is the Product Watch Pitch that Jon Bond, Head of Projects at Laufen and Roca, presented recently to an audience of designers, architects and hoteliers at Hotel Designs LIVE:

Elaborate attention to detail

To match The New Classic bathroom collection, Laufen also created a range of accessories from SaphirKeramik. Among the items are a wall-mounted shelf, soap dish, toothbrush holder, toilet brush holder and an elegant oval mirror with the novel distinction of being framed in SaphirKeramik.

According to Marcel Wanders, “For the first time, the ultra-modern SaphirKeramik has been moulded into a classic and iconic form. This lightweight yet resilient material gave us the unique opportunity to celebrate the beauty of fine porcelain with our elegant, soft lines.”

As well as being a Recommended Supplier, Laufen was a Product Watch Pitch partner at Hotel Designs LIVE, which took place on May 11, 2021. The next Hotel Designs LIVE will take place on August 10, 2021

Main image credit: Laufen

W Rome - Guest Room (render)

New renders released of W Rome, months ahead of its opening

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
New renders released of W Rome, months ahead of its opening

Designed by Meyer Davis with the brand’s bold interpretation of luxury in mind, W Rome will bring innovation and local storytelling to life when it opens this Autumn, marking the brand’s Italian debut…

W Hotels Worldwide is preparing to make a bold arrival in Italy this autumn with the debut of W Rome. Located on Via Liguria, next to the Spanish Steps, the historic palazzo-turned-luxury-lifestyle-hotel will offer an unapologetically Italian experience, where guests can live in the moment and anticipate the future of the Eternal City.

W Rome - Guest Room (render)

The time has almost arrived for us to welcome W Hotels’ debut Italian property, which, if rumours are to be believed, will in true W style make no apology for its bold and loud references to the local vernacular. For the Marriott International brand, which shelters a mind-blowing portfolio of more than 7,600 properties under 30 leading brands spanning 133 countries and territories, the opening of W Rome will be a significant moment as the destination continues to be a popular hotel development landscape.

“The debut of W Hotels in Italy is almost here and we could not be more excited to unveil our playfully luxe spirit with this highly anticipated hotel,” said Candice D’Cruz, Vice President – Luxury Brands, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Marriott International. “The opening will introduce a thriving line-up of restaurants and bars to the city that will become a must-go destination for travellers and local tastemakers alike. After more than a year of missed moments, raising a glass together on Otto Rooftop Bar is just what we all need.”

W Rome - Wet Deck

Image credit: W Hotels

Designed by Meyer Davis with the brand’s bold interpretation of luxury in mind, W Rome brings innovation and local storytelling to life. In a city marked by an immense historical heritage, the hotel décor will layer an Italian colour palette with patterns that blur distinct eras of standout design. The property exudes 1970s glamour with traditional architecture blending into colour blocking and bold graphic patterns in hues of burnt orange, dramatic red and foliage greens. An eclectic mix of colourful furniture meets stone walls representative of the building’s past, while reflective surfaces bring a contemporary feel to the interior. The 147 stylish, open-plan guestrooms and 15 suites feature luxurious design details including wooden herringbone patterned floors effortlessly blurring into modern marble surfaces contrasted with dark, rich maroon curtains. Guestrooms boast iconic views, with some overlooking the Istituto Svizzero, and many offering private balconies and terraces.

“W Lounge, the hotel’s buzzing bar destination, will bring the pulse of the city to the hotel’s doorstep.”

The Extreme Wow Suite (the W brand’s modern interpretation of a traditional presidential suite) provides a spectacular stay with highly coveted indoor and outdoor living, endless views across the city, and an impressive outdoor terrace spanning 140 square metres, perfect for private happenings and events.

As one of the defining characteristics of Italian culture, W Rome takes food seriously. Foodies will rejoice as Ciccio Sultano, Sicily’s sensational chef, brings his southern passion to the hotel as the Culinary Lead. His signature restaurant in Rome will be Giano Restaurant, where diners can meet over their favourite cocktails and delicious dishes. W Lounge, the hotel’s buzzing bar destination, will bring the pulse of the city to the hotel’s doorstep with live music, DJ sets and cocktail culture, while the hidden Giardino Clandestino will be  an intimate alfresco setting for toasting with friends.

W Rome - Giardino Clandestino

Image credit: W Hotels

A rare treasure in the city, Otto Rooftop Bar will boast sweeping panoramas across Rome, complete with a WET Deck (rooftop pool) where stylish locals and guests can soak up the Roman sun and mix it up over cocktails, crudo, and pizza.

FUEL meanwhile is the W brand’s high-energy, social take on wellness that allows guests to focus on mind and body. FUEL-focused activities will be led by Italian athlete Pietro Boselli, with the first FUEL x Petra Studio Gym and personal training programme. From high-intensity sessions to boxing and yoga, Boselli will offer guests and locals alike energy-soaked workouts.

Trailblazing its way around the globe, with nearly 60 hotels, W is defying expectations and breaking the norms of traditional luxury wherever the iconic W sign lands. W Rome is no exception and is expected to add ‘super-charge energy’ to the city, while offering guests and locals alike a destination that shelters provocative design and iconic hospitality experiences. W does it again!

Main image credit: W Hotels

(in video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Workspace design trends in hospitality

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
(in video) Hotel Designs LIVE: Workspace design trends in hospitality

In the final session of Hotel Designs LIVE on May 11, 2021, we positioned the spotlight on workspace design trends and how they are impacting hotel design and hospitality. In an exclusive panel discussion, editor Hamish Kilburn welcomed leading figures in residential, workspace and hospitality design in order to confront the topic from three separate perspectives (full video below)… 

To aptly round off Hotel Designs LIVE, which took place on May 11, editor Hamish Kilburn returned to the screen to introduce the final topic of the day. Having already hosted panel discussions on the same day around the new era of lifestyle, unconventional bathrooms and celebrating art outside the frame, the fourth and final discussion amplified a topic that is ever-evolving, especially following recent cultural shifts. Closely linked to the conversations around lifestyle, workspace design trends are taking bold leaps forward. Therefore, it’s little surprise that major shows this year, such as HIX Event and Workplace Design Show, will explore the topic in detail later this year.

Since you’re here, there are limited spaces for the next Hotel Designs LIVE event (taking place virtually on August 10). It’s free for designers, architects, hoteliers and developers to attend – just click here to secure your place in the audience (booking form takes less than two minutes).

Ahead of those key events, which will include yet more panel discussions moderated by Hotel Designs, and as the dust is yet to settle on exactly how hospitality will incorporate today’s workspace trends in the future, Kilburn wanted to understand early on how the new era of lifestyle is leading towards public areas opening up to shelter co-working spaces. “Now that the world has adapted to news ways of working, and consuming information, the opportunities for hotels and hospitality establishments to design flexible spaces for business and leisure has never been greater,” he said. “But how do you sensitively design co-working spaces that are both functional, aesthetically pleasing and on brand? It’s a complicated topic that has many strands. Therefore, we decided that for this panel discussion we were going to hear perspectives from three corners of the arena; a residential designer, a workplace designer and a hospitality interior designer.”

On the panel:

Here’s the full video of the panel discussion (on demand), produced by CUBE, which includes Product Watch pitches from Session Sponsor Shure and lighting brand Well-Lit.

That concludes our editorial series around the topics explored at Hotel Designs LIVE. We have also published the full recordings of session one, session two and session three from Hotel Designs LIVE .

You can now book your place to attend our next Hotel Designs LIVE on August 10, 2021. The topics explored will include surfaces, sleep, senses and social – speakers have been announced! In the meantime, if you would like to discuss sponsorship opportunities, focused Product Watch pitches or the concept of Hotel Designs LIVE, please contact Katy Phillips or call +44 (0) 1992 374050.

Since you’re here…

More than 40,000 readers per month enjoy the content we publish on Hotel Designs. Our mission is to define the point on international hotel design, and we are doing that by serving relevant news stories and engaging features. To keep up to date on the hottest stories that are emerging, you can sign up to the newsletter, which is completely free of charge. As well as receiving a weekly round-up of the top stories, you will also access our bi-monthly HD Edit –staying ahead of the curve has never been so easy!

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nhow Brussels colourful guestrooms

nhow Brussels Bloom Hotel opens with a colourful twist

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
nhow Brussels Bloom Hotel opens with a colourful twist

NH Hotel Group’s unconventional lifestyle hospitality brand, nhow, expands its portfolio with the launch of its seventh hotel; a contemporary hub that has been designed with a different art form on every floor, including a floor designed by London designer Jessica Thacker. Sunglasses on, folks things are about to get colourful… 

nhow Brussels colourful guestrooms

nhow Brussels Bloom has opened, sheltering an immersive world of creativity and inspiration that takes art completely outside the frame. Located in the Botanique area, the cultural centre of Brussels, the hotel is a place where business, leisure travellers and artists come together to share their passion for art and find new inspiration. Sitting under the “nhow” umbrella, NH Hotel Group’s unconventional lifestyle brand, the hotels follows on from the successful opening of nhow London last year.  

nhow London used it’s location as a major source of inspiration – think back to the London park-themed corridors and who can forget that rocket-launching Big Ben?! Meanwhile, nhow Brussels Bloom chose unconventional art as a concept that would help bring together people from all over the world. Introducing the The Creative Hub, which is a place within the hotel where all different types of creativity come together, just like different people come together: locals, tourists and business travellers. Anyone who appreciates unconventional creativity will feel at home in this hotel.

Van in lobby of nhow Brussels

Image credit: NH Hotel Group

The guestrooms are decorated like an artist’s studio: upon entering, there is an explosion of colours and prints, while the sleeping area is just like a blank canvas waiting for its art to arrive. Each room has a unique painting, which steals the attention due to its neutral surroundings. The bathrooms are inspired by the photographer’s workplace, the darkroom: mysterious, dark, and with a splash of colour here and there. Creativity is added by various Polaroid photos on the wall, inviting guests to create their own nhow bathroom moments. 

Each floor is inspired by a different art form. The moment you step out of the elevator, you are completely immersed in the specific art theme. Jessica Thacker, London artist, designed the seventh floor with her abstract music-inspired paintings. nhow Brussels Bloom will open its other floors to more upcoming artists in the future. 

In addition to 305 hotel rooms, the hotel has 12 meeting rooms for approximately 350 people. With the largest screen in Brussels, an amazing 17 by 4 metres, it is ideal for digital and hybrid events. Guests can have breakfast in the hotel restaurant or enjoy a drink and bitesized streetfood in the bar and restaurant. The hotel restaurant is a creative experience in its own. Diezijner x With Jeej has covered the walls, pillars and the cheat day station, in which you can get all sorts of pancakes and waffles, surrounded by unique graffiti art. Jeroen van der Knaap from With Jeej explained: “I just loved taking over the breakfast restaurant while the hotel was still under renovation and to get full freedom to turn the breakfast experience for guests into a creative one.” You can go for your daily work out on the eighth floor in a fully equipped gym, with a beautiful view over the city. Guests can order an easel and a paint kit via room service to get creative during their stay. 

Every nhow hotel aims to be inspiring, surprising and adapts to its surroundings like a chameleon. That’s why the embodiment of the nhow brand has arrived in Brussels: Patch, the colourful eight-metre-long chameleon, who previously brightened up both London and Amsterdam with its presence. With its impressive appearance, the chameleon represents the brand values of nhow: self-discovery, change and creativity. Patch is placed on the façade of the hotel and will be lit up at night.     

The nhow brand, which currently has hotels in Milan, Rotterdam, Marseille, London, Amsterdam and now Brussels, shows no sign of slowing down. The brand will welcome its second hotel in Germany in 202 and hotels in Rome, Santiago de Chile and Lima will follow in the next three years. 

Main image credit: NH Hotel Group

DESIGN POD ep 5

LISTEN NOW: Ep 5 of DESIGN POD explores creativity crafted

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
LISTEN NOW: Ep 5 of DESIGN POD explores creativity crafted

Episode 5 of DESIGN POD is now live! In this episode, in association with Bathroom Brands Group, editor Hamish Kilburn and co-host Harriet Forde meet Audrey Carden and Eleanora Cunietti, the founders of design studio Carden Cunietti, to discuss diversity, how to design good business decisions and explore the trends that both ladies would hate to re-emerge…

DESIGN POD ep 5

Thankfully – and although there is still work to be done – no longer does it raise eyebrows for women to move into leadership roles in the design and also architecture arenas. For Audrey Carden and Eleanora Cunietti, time has moved quickly since they first launched their much-loved Notting Hill store in London in 1996 to now, owning a thriving interior design practice – perfecting their craft by putting everything they have learned along the way into their projects.

The duo’s journey together in business started when they bumped into each other at a London antique fair while scouting for distinctive pieces for clients. The organic decision to start their business with just £20,000 (how things have changed) led to success, failures and too many stories to fit in to this episode.

Despite everything, the ladies would not change a thing – and here’s why…

Listen to the full episode here:

The next DESIGN POD episode, which will drop next month, will invite photographer Mel Yates and stylist Florence Rolfe to explore the theme of capturing design and architecture.

Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs

Editor checks in: What it’s actually like for young designers

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Editor checks in: What it’s actually like for young designers

In his latest column, editor Hamish Kilburn addresses an issue that is resulting in young designers and architects missing out on a fair opportunity to succeed. Can we do more to help students to become the next generation of A&D professionals, he asks… 

Hamish Kilburn, editor, Hotel Designs

Do you remember when you first graduated; the struggle became real, your wages weren’t just spending money and the world all of a sudden felt exponentially larger. You were given your first opportunity to either sink or swim in working life and deadlines, allocated annual leave and working lunches became the new norm.

For myself – and granted, journalism operates in a slightly different arena – it was an internship that I’d secured throughout my time at university that evolved into full-time job straight after I graduated. I was so grateful, hungry and eager to succeed as well as please. It felt like the right, and natural step forward after completing my final module as a student. I didn’t think about it too much at the time, but my fate had just been sealed by a smartly dressed stranger.

Before this, I had applied elsewhere – I remember sitting in one interview, to be a financial journalist, blagging my way through while not evening understanding what the FTSE 100 was, or why the interviewer hadn’t grilled me yet on my D at Business A-level. To the surprise of nobody, I didn’t get the job. I wasn’t untalented, just inexperienced. The only reason I can think of why the company I was interning at the time offered me a role was my personality and that I had proved to them that I was able to work well with others. I’m pretty sure the fact that they lost their editor and assistant editor of one of their leading publications on the same day, close to the time my internship was up, was also a swaying factor. Either way, I took what I could and began to climb!

“Can an industry that is fuelled by innovation afford to lose the raw talent that was so successfully incubated in that global campaign?”

Things were different in 2014. For starters, deadly virus’ that shut boarders were sci-fi plots and internships were more meaningful. Working from home was a luxury, and tea-making etiquette was essential in order to survive.

Today, while design studios globally try everything in their grasp to keep hold of their existing staff members, hundreds – if not thousands – of students are graduating from the comfort of education and being left in the wilderness. One aspiring architect recently shared with me that many workplaces he applied for requested at least one or two years’ experience first. If what he says is true, then it’s impossible for part one architecture candidates to secure themselves a job – a first opportunity – in the workplace. Take the Accor Design Awards, for example, which concluded a few weeks ago and has since become one of our most-read articles this month. Can an industry that is fuelled by innovation afford to lose the raw talent that was so successfully incubated in that global campaign? Without giving these students a chance, there is little hope.

And then, of course, for anyone who has started a new job during the pandemic will understand, if students have been fortunate enough to secure roles over the last year, the opportunity to make a good, personable impression by meeting their co-workers and building internal working relationships has been erased and replaced with social distancing restrictions that have forced the industry to work from home – no wonder why students are losing hope in the system.

Recognising the struggle that young, talented designers and architects are going through, Hotel Designs has proudly teamed up with NEWH – UK Chapter to facilitate a handful of meaningful and authentic conversations between them and individuals who are at top of the pyramid within their own studio. We are handing over the microphone for the students to lead the interview. Going beyond a PR-washing opportunity, these interviews will allow us to hear what young designers and architects want to know, as well as given them the voice to share their concerns with leading figures in hospitality and hotel design. Put simply, we are giving them the power – and the platform – to share their narrative.

Our first interview in this series, between young architect James Ingram and James Dilley, Director, Jestico + Whiles, goes live next week. Stay tuned…

Editor, Hotel Designs

Crosswater brushwed brass tap

Opulent touches to modern bathrooms – the Ultimate Brass Collection by Crosswater

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Opulent touches to modern bathrooms – the Ultimate Brass Collection by Crosswater

First emerging in the 70s and 80s, interior design has since embraced opulence in the home – a trend that continues to remain popular within interiors to this day, particularly across bathrooms. As consumers look to incorporate this look, Crosswater has made it a priority to provide an unrivalled choice of brassware and accessories that will assist in adding a perfect luxe look into the bathroom…

Crosswater brushwed brass tap

Drawing upon inspiration from the industrial era, UNION by Crosswater brings a bold design to the 21st century, with sleek profiles that combine superior casting techniques and thermostatic valve technology for complete control of water flow.

Offering another variation of this extravagant finish, the MPRO range brings superior function and design to bathrooms. Encompassing simple lines and an on-trend Brushed Brass surface, the MPRO collection delivers luxury and character to completely transform the bathroom. The brassware can also be paired with the new GALLERY 10 and OPTIX 10 Brushed Brass shower enclosures and walk-ins for a cohesive showering solution that exudes sophistication.

A more traditional look can be attained with the Belgravia ‘Unlacquered Brass’ finish. Influenced by time-honoured design, the gorgeous golden glow of the brassware and accessories is guaranteed to make an on-trend statement across bathrooms of all styles. Pair with ornate tiling and classic influences for a contemporary twist.

From towels rails and radiators to showerheads and bath fillers, all of the Crosswater unlacquered and brushed brass finishes are sympathetically curated to ensure everlasting luxury.

Crosswater is one of our recommended suppliers. To keep up to date with their news, click here. And, if you are interested in becoming one of our recommended suppliers, click here.

Main image credit: Crosswater

Hotel Designs LIVE - speakers

Speakers announced for Hotel Designs LIVE in August

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Speakers announced for Hotel Designs LIVE in August

Following four successful virtual events, Hotel Designs LIVE, which is completely free for designers, architects, hoteliers and developers, will return on August 10, 2021. In order to confront ‘zoom fatigue’ with meaningful content, we have just announced the global line-up of speakers who will appear in a series of four engaging panel discussions throughout the day. Editor Hamish Kilburn, who will host the event at Minotti London, reveals all… 

Hotel Designs LIVE - speakers

Hotel Designs LIVE, the one-day conference which is free to attend if you qualify as a designer, architect, hoteliers or developer, will return on August 10 to serve up a series of online panel discussions with the aim to keep the industry connected and the conversation flowing during the on-going pandemic.

The four topics that have been confirmed for the virtual event, which was recently shortlisted shortlisted in the ‘Best Webinar Series’ category at the Digital Event Awards, are senses, sleep, surfaces and social.

Editor Hamish Kilburn will host the event from the comfort of Minotti London’s Fitzrovia showroom. “For more than a year now, Hotel Designs LIVE has been meaningfully serving the international hotel design and hospitality community by simply keeping the conversation following,” Kilburn explains. “It feels very fitting, considering our previous networking collaborations the luxury Italian furniture brand and its relevant to all of our four panel discussions, to welcome Minotti London as our headline sponsor.”

There are limited spaces available. Simply click here to secure your place in the virtual audience (booking form takes less than two minutes and entry is free for designers, architects, hoteliers and developers).

Meet the confirmed speakers (so far): 

The agenda: 

1st session Hotel Designs LIVE

Click here to participate.

1st Session - Hotel Designs LIVE

Click here to participate. 

Hotel Designs LIVE - sleep session

Click here to participate. 

Hotel Designs LIVE – surfaces session

Click here to participate. 

Session 4 - Hotel Designs LIVE

Click here to participate. 

If you are a designer, architect, hotelier  or developer and would like to secure your complimentary seats in the audience, click hereIf you are a supplier to the hotel design industry and would like to promote your latest product or services to the Hotel Designs LIVE audience, please contact Katy Phillips via email or call +44 (0)1992 374050.

Main image credit: Oladimeji Odunsi/Unsplash

The June April Brown and Srah Sklash

Meet the women who are pioneering a new wave of design-led motels

730 565 Hamish Kilburn
Meet the women who are pioneering a new wave of design-led motels

With a penchant for ‘great wine and good vibes’, The June is a female-led motelier that was founded by best friends, April Brown and Sarah Sklash. Following our bow to International Women’s Day, Editor Hamish Kilburn sat down with Brown and Sklash to learn more about how the due are using design into to evolve The June into a leading lifestyle brand…

The June April Brown and Srah Sklash

What started as a side hustle turned into a full-time passion project in 2016, with April Brown and Sarah Sklash converting their first rundown roadside motel into a boutique hospitality destination. Centered on bold feminine design with a retro twist, the two properties, located in Ontario’s Prince Edward County and Sauble Beach, are both set amongst beautiful landscapes that inspire their aesthetics.

To achieve the balance of beautiful design with a plant lady personality, the best friends started by tapping into the epitome of North American motel culture: neon signs, bright coloured doors, and retro Solair chairs. Collaborating with other female-founded businesses, creatives, and makers from their local communities and beyond, The June brand look quickly came together. Everything from the custom bathroom tiles, terrazzo countertops, bespoke wallpaper, and perfect paint shades like Apricot Beige and Palladian Blue set the mood and transform the spaces from roadside motels to places of refuge.

Hamish Kilburn: Tell us a little bit about yourselves. What is your background and how did you get to where you are today? What made you decide to open The June?

April Brown: Simply put, we’re two best friends who took a risk to do something we love. My background is in PR, and Sarah’s is in government, but we both have this love of travel and boutique hospitality, and wanted more than our corporate jobs in Toronto. On New Year’s Day 2016, we finally decided to work together and develop a sort of side hustle. Originally, we wanted to create a weekend “wine camp” for adults, setting up camp at a roadside motel in the Prince Edward County countryside. It didn’t take long for us to realise that there was a bigger idea there, so we visited a dingy, roadside motel and decided to purchase it. It was exciting to take that leap, but what followed was a lot of hard work. We renovated the property entirely ourselves – except for the plumbing and electric – and learned so much along the way. The result is something that we literally built, and we’re looking forward to growing the brand.

HK: What was the inspiration behind The June? How would you describe the style of The June?

Sarah Sklash: The June is a little old school, high-spirited, eccentric, good vibes – and we like to personify that throughout the properties. To achieve all of that, we really focused on the designs, putting a lot of time and attention into every detail. The Prince Edward County property features pink doors, statement palm wallpaper and serious plant lady vibes; Sauble Beach has sun-bleached wallpaper in every room, a retro colour palette, and an idyllic 70s motel pool. Both properties have a balance of North American motel culture (neon signs, bright coloured doors, and retro Solair chairs) while also pulling inspiration from the beautiful surrounding landscapes. The results are visually stimulating, but also feel like you are in a very cool friend’s house. In addition to the design, we like to throw in other nice touches, like a free glass of rosé at check-in.

HK: The June is a big supporter of Female-led businesses, after all you have created one yourself. Tell us about the creatives and makers you have collaborated with for the two properties.  

AB: Wherever we can, we love to partner with like-minded, female-founded and owned businesses in our communities and beyond. The June wasn’t built by us alone; we leaned on a lot of family and friends to help make The June the success it is today, so we really believe in that sense of community. We have a long list of collaborators, having worked with partners on everything from our branding to our custom wallpapers.

Here are some examples of the incredible women we work with:

  • Jackie Treitz, The Paper Bakery, who helped us create and design The June brand
  • Candice Kaye who designed our perfectly sun bleached wallpaper in the guest rooms in Sauble Beach
  • Melissa Condotta of Sunday’s Company, who created our signature scent and in-room apothecary products (body oil, soap and linen spray).

Image of pool in motelHK: How does The June stand out from other hotels and motels in the industry?  

SS: We believe a good amount of our success is because we’re so hands on and everything is from our points of view. We believe ourselves to be the target audience, so there’s an authenticity in everything we do, and luckily it resonates with our guests. Our approach is also very casual, informal, and friendly, which is exactly what people want when they’re looking to escape and unwind.

HK: Earlier this year you launched your e-commerce business. Tell us more about The June Shop and the collections available…

AB: Since we opened our pink doors in Prince Edward County four years ago, our followers have been messaging us and asking where some of our most iconic items are from, and how they can create The June aesthetic at home. We finally decided to reveal our sources and created a destination where our community can shop The June look and find inspiration. Also, with the pandemic and everyone stuck at home for the past year, we wanted to create an opportunity for our guests to bring The June’s iconic vacation vibes home.